Purpose: To evaluate if serum cytokine levels could be used as diagnostic or prognostic markers in ovarian cancer.
Experimental design: A cytokine bead array was done to simultaneously analyze 14 cytokines in the sera of 187 ovarian cancer patients with complete clinicopathologic data and follow-up, 45 patients with benign ovarian tumors, and 50 healthy controls. Serum levels of the well-known serum tumor marker CA-125 were routinely measured in all patients.
Results: Serum levels of CA-125, interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-7, and IL-10 were elevated in ovarian cancer patients compared with patients with benign ovarian tumors. Analyzing the cytokines in combination with CA-125 showed that a combination of IL-7 and CA-125 serum levels could accurately predict 69% of the ovarian cancer patients, without falsely classifying patients with benign pelvic mass. The cytokines IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and IP-10 and CA-125 were associated with disease-free and overall survival in univariate analysis. In multivariate analysis, IL-7 and IP-10 were independent predictors of overall survival, although after inclusion of the clinicopathologic parameters, only stage and residual disease remained as independent predictors of survival.
Conclusions: IL-7 levels were found to be strongly associated with ovarian cancer and could be used in combination with CA-125 to distinguish between malignant and benign ovarian tumors.