Markers for Ovarian Cancer May Show Up Years Earlier

TUESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Concentrations of several biomarkers begin to grow three years before women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but only reach substantial elevation levels over the 12 months before diagnosis, new research finds.

The findings, published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, expand on previous research into biomarkers known as CA125, HE4, mesothelin, B7-H4, decoy receptor 3 and spondin-2.

Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle examined blood serum samples from a lung cancer study. They compared samples from 34 women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer to samples from 70 healthy patients.

The concentrations of CA125, HE4 and mesothelin increased slightly in the ovarian cancer patients about three years before they were diagnosed with the disease.

"Serum markers likely will form a key element in any screening regimen, with the lead time and other parameters of each marker or combination of markers being taken into account. The careful evaluation technique applied in the current study fits into a staged approach necessary for testing performance of early markers of disease," Patricia Hartge, of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.

-- Randy Dotinga

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SOURCE: Oxford Journals, news release, Dec. 30, 2009