Mucins in ovarian cancer diagnosis and therapy

J Ovarian Res. 2009 Dec 24;2:21. doi: 10.1186/1757-2215-2-21.

Abstract

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy and the five-year survival rate is only 35% after diagnosis. Epithelial ovarian cancer is a highly metastatic disease characterized by widespread peritoneal dissemination and ascites. The death incidences from ovarian cancer could be significantly lowered by developing new methods for the early diagnosis and treatment of this fatal disease. Several potential markers have been identified recently. However, mucins are the most promising markers for ovarian cancer diagnosis. Mucins are large extracellular, heavily glycosylated proteins and their aberrant expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a variety of cancers, including ovarian cancer. This review will summarize known facts about the pathological and molecular characteristics of ovarian cancer, the current status of ovarian cancer markers, as well as general information about mucins, the putative role of mucins in the progression of ovarian cancer and their potential use for the early diagnosis and treatment of this disease.