Proteomics biomarkers for solid tumors: Current status and future prospects

Mass Spectrom Rev. 2019 Jan;38(1):49-78. doi: 10.1002/mas.21572. Epub 2018 Jun 11.


Cancer is a heterogeneous multifactorial disease, which continues to be one of the main causes of death worldwide. Despite the extensive efforts for establishing accurate diagnostic assays and efficient therapeutic schemes, disease prevalence is on the rise, in part, however, also due to improved early detection. For years, studies were focused on genomics and transcriptomics, aiming at the discovery of new tests with diagnostic or prognostic potential. However, cancer phenotypic characteristics seem most likely to be a direct reflection of changes in protein metabolism and function, which are also the targets of most drugs. Investigations at the protein level are therefore advantageous particularly in the case of in-depth characterization of tumor progression and invasiveness. Innovative high-throughput proteomic technologies are available to accurately evaluate cancer formation and progression and to investigate the functional role of key proteins in cancer. Employing these new highly sensitive proteomic technologies, cancer biomarkers may be detectable that contribute to diagnosis and guide curative treatment when still possible. In this review, the recent advances in proteomic biomarker research in cancer are outlined, with special emphasis placed on the identification of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for solid tumors. In view of the increasing number of screening programs and clinical trials investigating new treatment options, we discuss the molecular connections of the biomarkers as well as their potential as clinically useful tools for diagnosis, risk stratification and therapy monitoring of solid tumors.

Keywords: cancer; clinical proteomics; diagnosis; protein biomarkers; solid tumors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Proteins