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Indian J Cancer. 2019 Jul-Sep;56(3):216-221. doi: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_305_18.

Role of serum HE4 as a prognostic marker in carcinoma of the ovary.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.



Epithelial ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer. Human Epididymis Protein 4 is a novel biomarker for ovarian cancer. This study aims to explore the role of HE4 in monitoring recurrence and prognostication of ovarian cancer by predicting overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS).


In total, 149 patients with ovarian carcinoma were enrolled in the study. Baseline and post-treatment 3 monthly biomarker levels were recorded. For analysis, patients were divided into primary debulking surgery (PDS) and interval debulking surgery (IDS) groups. Statistical analysis was done using SPSS 24.


Median age of patients at diagnosis was 45 (19-75) years. Recurrence was seen in 68.5% (n = 102) patients. The sensitivity of serum HE4 in detecting recurrence was 85.3% (95%CI: 76.95%-91.5%) and specificity was 91.5% (95%CI: 89.5%-98.2%). A >80% decline in HE4 levels during treatment indicated a better PFS, which was statistically significant in both groups (P = 0.04 in PDS and P = <0.001 in IDS group). Multivariate analysis suggested that OS was influenced by optimal cytoreduction in both groups of patients and stage in the IDS group. On the contrary, PFS was influenced by stage and response in HE4 levels in both groups.


HE4 levels have similar sensitivity but more specificity when compared with CA125 in diagnosing recurrent ovarian cancer. A >80% decline in HE4 levels during treatment predicts better PFS and can help in prognostication.


Human epididymis protein 4; ovarian cancer; prognosticating cancer; recurrence

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