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Multiple biomarker panels for early detection of ovarian cancer.

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Future Oncol. 2006 Dec 2 (6).

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cause of cancer mortality in women. It is diagnosed in more than 20,000 women in the USA each year and approximately 15,000 women die of the disease annually. The majority of patients are diagnosed with advanced-stage ovarian cancer, as this deadly disease causes minimal and nonspecific symptoms until late in the course of the disease. No standardized screening test exists to reliably detect ovarian cancer. Cancer antigen (CA)-125 is a protein antigen found at abnormally high levels in the blood of many women with ovarian cancer. Most healthy women have CA-125 levels of below 35 units/microl of blood serum. However, a number of noncancerous conditions can cause elevated CA 125 levels, and many women with early-stage ovarian cancer have normal CA-125 levels. Owing to these limitations, this test is not recommended for routine screening in women who are not at high risk or who do not have specific symptoms of the disease. Currently, many researchers are focusing on simultaneous examination of multiple markers to increase sensitivity of the screening test for early detection of ovarian cancer. Analysis of the current literature shows that combining several biomarkers dramatically improves sensitivity of CA-125 in ovarian cancer patients. This article provides a comprehensive overview of existing studies in the area of multimarker panel development for the early detection and monitoring of ovarian cancer. Our literature review demonstrates that a multimarker approach for the generation of a prototype assay for early detection of ovarian cancer has a great potential to lead to the development of a screening test for this disease.

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