Serum biomarker panels for the discrimination of benign from malignant cases in patients with an adnexal mass

Gynecol Oncol. 2010 Jun;117(3):440-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2010.02.005. Epub 2010 Mar 24.


Objectives: The diagnosis of an adnexal mass is a prevalent issue among women in the United States, although current methods of identifying those at high risk of malignancy remain insufficient. Ineffective triage of women with malignant masses is associated with delayed or inappropriate treatment and a negative effect on disease outcome.

Methods: We performed an evaluation of 65 ovarian cancer-related biomarkers in the circulation of women diagnosed with an adnexal mass. Our subject group consisted of women diagnosed with benign masses and early- and late-stage ovarian cancer.

Results: More than half of the biomarkers tested were found to differ significantly between benign and malignant cases. As individual markers, HE4 and CA-125 provided the greatest level of discrimination between benign and malignant cases, and the combination of these two biomarkers provided a higher level of discriminatory power than either marker considered alone. Multivariate statistical analysis identified several multimarker panels that could discriminate early-stage, late-stage, and combined ovarian cancers from benign cases with similar or slightly improved SN/SP levels to the CA-125/HE4 combination; however, these larger panels could not outperform the 2-biomarker panel in an independent validation set. We also identified a 3-biomarker panel with particular utility in premenopausal women.

Conclusions: Our findings serve to advance the development of blood-based screening methods for the discrimination of benign and malignant ovarian masses by confirming and expanding upon the superior utility of the CA-125/HE4 combination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adnexa Uteri / pathology*
  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Epididymal Secretory Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • beta-Defensins


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • DEFB126 protein, human
  • Epididymal Secretory Proteins
  • beta-Defensins