Biomarkers and strategies for early detection of ovarian cancer

Robert C. Bast, Zhen Lu, Chae Young Han, Karen H. Lu, Karen S. Anderson, Charles W. Drescher, Steven J. Skates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Early detection of ovarian cancer remains an important unmet medical need. Effective screening could reduce mortality by 10%- 30%. Used individually, neither serum CA125 nor transvaginal sonography (TVS) is sufficiently sensitive or specific. Two-stage strategies have proven more effective, where a significant rise above a woman's baseline CA125 prompts TVS and an abnormal sonogram prompts surgery. Two major screening trials have documented that this strategy has adequate specificity, but sensitivity for early-stage (I-II) disease must improve to have a greater impact on mortality. To improve the first stage, different panels of protein biomarkers have detected cases missed by CA125. Autoantibodies against TP53 have detected 20% of early-stage ovarian cancers 8 months before elevation of CA125 and 22 months before clinical diagnosis. Panels of autoantibodies and antigen- autoantibody complexes are being evaluated with the goal of detecting >90% of early-stage ovarian cancers, alone or in combination with CA125, while maintaining 98% specificity in control subjects. Other biomarkers, including micro-RNAs, ctDNA, methylated DNA, and combinations of ctDNA alterations, are being tested to provide an optimal first-stage test. New technologies are also being developed with greater sensitivity than TVS to image small volumes of tumor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2504-2512
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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