Background: Pyruvate kinase isoenzyme M2-PK is instrumental to tumour metabolism and hence over-expressed in tumour cells leading to detectable plasma concentrations.
Objectives: To assess the degree of association between M2-PK plasma concentrations and ovarian cancer and to determine the cut-off values for its sensitivity and specificity for differentiating between benign and malignant ovarian disease.
Settings: The Gynaecological Cancer Centre at both King's College and St. Thomas' Hospitals, London, UK.
Methods: Patients with suspected ovarian cancer referred to the above centre were recruited prospectively during the years 2004-2005. Blood samples were collected before surgery for plasma M2-PK assays. Results were assessed with respect to cancer diagnosis, patient and tumour characteristics. Statistical analysis including the receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve was performed using Analyse-It and SPSS V 13.
Results: 100 patients with age range 14-88 years and a median of 57 years were recruited in the study. Of whom 52 were diagnosed with invasive ovarian cancer. Of these 35 (67%) were Stage III and above with two secondary tumours. M2-PK was not related to patient age (p = 0.43). There was a significant correlation between CA125 and M2-PK (p < 0.001). The mean M2-PK concentration in cancer patients was 52 U/ml versus 27 U/ml in patients with benign conditions (p < 0.001). At a cut-off value of 22 U/ml the sensitivity of M2-PK for detecting cancer was 70% with a specificity of 65%.
Conclusion: M2-PK was significantly raised in ovarian cancer patients, however its role in clinical practice needs further evaluation.