Epigenetic biomarkers in epithelial ovarian cancer

Cancer Lett. 2014 Jan 28;342(2):257-63. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2011.12.036. Epub 2012 Jan 12.


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological malignancy and the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women. Women with ovarian cancer are typically diagnosed at late stage, when the cancer has spread into the peritoneal cavity and complete surgical removal is difficult. The 5-year survival time for patients diagnosed at this stage is 30%, in contrast to a 5-year survival of 90% for patients diagnosed at early stage. Cancer screening and early detection have the potential to greatly decrease the mortality and morbidity from cancer. The emerging field of epigenetics offers a valuable opportunity to identify cancer-specific DNA methylation changes that can be used in the clinic to improve early-stage diagnosis and better predict response in treated patients. To date, numerous DNA methylation aberrations have been identified in epithelial ovarian cancer; here we review some candidate genes and pathways with potential clinical utility as biomarkers for diagnosis and/or prognosis. It has become clear that even with the great promise of DNA methylation biomarkers in epithelial ovarian cancer, the identification of highly specific, sensitive and robust panels of markers and the standardization of analysis techniques are still required in order to improve detection, treatment and thus patient outcome.

Keywords: Epigenetic biomarkers; High-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • DNA Methylation
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / mortality
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Phenotype
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor