Circulating biomarkers in epithelial ovarian cancer diagnosis: from present to future perspective

Ann Transl Med. 2017 Jul;5(13):276. doi: 10.21037/atm.2017.05.13.


Ovarian cancer (OC) represents the most lethal gynecological cancer and the poor prognosis is often attributable to late diagnosis. The diagnostic approach to woman presenting with pelvic mass is difficult and differential diagnosis often requires invasive histological examination. Serum CA125 and HE4, as well as the most of the other serum biomarkers discovered and validated, are not sufficiently sensitive and specific to make early diagnosis. Moreover, conflicting results exist about the improvement of diagnostic performance by using multivariate index assays, developed by combining circulating biomarkers with other variables (i.e., ultrasound and/or menopausal status and/or age), in comparison to CA125 or HE4 alone. In the last years, several studies focused on the microRNAs (miRs), short single-stranded non-coding RNA that regulate several messenger RNAs (mRNAs). As in other cancer types, the aberrant miRs expression has been demonstrated in gynecological cancers, in both tissues and serum samples. In particular, the diagnostic performance of single or miRs panels resulted very high. However, to date, despite the potential clinical utility has been demonstrated, none of these miRs has been validated in large OC populations.

Keywords: Biomarkers; HE4; epigenetic biomarkers; microRNAs (miRs); ovarian cancer (OC).

Publication types

  • Review