Preoperative HE4 expression in plasma predicts surgical outcome in primary ovarian cancer patients: results from the OVCAD study

Gynecol Oncol. 2013 Feb;128(2):245-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2012.11.023. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Objectives: Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the major cause of death due to gynecological malignancies. The most important prognostic factors are residual tumor mass after surgery and platinum-response. No predictive biomarkers are available to identify patients who will benefit from standard treatment. The aim of our study was to analyze the role of HE4 in predicting surgical and clinical outcome in primary EOC.

Methods: In the European multicentric project "OVCAD", 275 consecutive patients with primary EOC were enrolled. Patients were eligible if radical cytoreductive surgery was performed and platinum-based chemotherapy was applied. Plasma and ascites samples were collected before or during surgery. The concentrations of HE4 and CA125 was determined using ELISA and Luminex technique, respectively.

Results: Median age at first diagnosis was 58 years (range 18-85 years). Most patients presented with advanced stage disease, FIGO III or IV (94.6%), grades II-III (96%) and serous histology (86.2%). In most cases a complete cytoreduction to no residual tumor mass was achieved (68.4%). Higher plasma HE4 levels correlated with poor surgery outcome in terms of macroscopically residual tumor mass (p<0.001) and platinum-resistance (p=0.009). Plasma CA125 and the risk index (HE4 and CA125) were independent predictive factors for surgical outcome (p=0.001, OR=3.37, 95% CI=1.61-7.06 and p<0.001, OR=6,041, 95% CI=2.33-15.65, respectively). FIGO stage III was an independent predictive factor for platinum response (p=0.039, OR=0.436, 95% CI=0.198-0.960).

Conclusions: The presented data are showing that the combination of HE4 and CA125 expression in plasma might predict the surgical outcome in EOC and by this may have a prognostic impact on PFS and OS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / blood*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / surgery*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • WAP Four-Disulfide Core Domain Protein 2
  • Young Adult


  • Proteins
  • WAP Four-Disulfide Core Domain Protein 2
  • WFDC2 protein, human