Proteomic biomarkers in combination with CA 125 for detection of epithelial ovarian cancer using prediagnostic serum samples from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.


When epithelial ovarian cancer is detected at an early stage (I-II), the 5-year survival rate is between 70% and 90%; whereas, when it is detected in late stages (III-IV), the 5-year survival rate slips to <30%. In a previous report, the authors observed that proteomic biomarkers and cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) exhibited a sensitivity of 84% at a specificity of 98% for identifying sera from patients who had stage I disease at the time of surgery, significantly improving the sensitivity of CA 125 alone. The challenge, however, is to detect ovarian cancer before clinical diagnosis. The current study was part of a large effort to compare different multimarker biomarker panels for the early detection of ovarian cancer. Several biomarkers were evaluated alone and in combination with CA 125 in prediagnostically collected sera from women in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.

Proximal prediagnostic sera from 118 women with ovarian cancer (cases) and from 951 age-matched women (controls) (8 controls per case, including 4 randomly selected from the general population, 2 with CA 125 levels ≥ 35 U/mL, and 2 with a positive family history of breast/ovarian cancer) were analyzed using the CA 125 immunoassay and surface-enhanced laser desorption and ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry to measure 7 proteins (apolipoprotein A1, truncated transthyretin, transferrin, hepcidin, β-2 microglobulin, connective tissue activating protein III), and interalpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy-chain 4). Data were analyzed by 2 statistical strategies that combined the 7 markers and CA 125 into 1 predictive score for disease classification.

CA 125 levels were elevated (≥ 35 U/mL) in 61.5% of 65 patients who had CA 125 data available from samples that were collected <12 months before cancer diagnosis; however, levels of the additional 7 biomarkers were not different between cases and the 3 control groups individually or combined. Two panels that combined CA 125 and the 7 biomarkers failed to improve the sensitivity of CA 125 alone.

In contrast to earlier findings from analyzes of postdiagnostically collected sera, the addition of 7 biomarkers to CA 125 did not improve sensitivity for preclinical diagnosis beyond CA 125 alone.


The following biomarkers make reference to this publication:

  • Bast RC
  • Fung ET
  • Lu KH
  • Moore LE
  • Pfeiffer RM
  • Zhang Z
PubMed ID
Appears In
Cancer, 2012, 118 (1)