A long awaited assessment of potential biomarkers for detecting early ovarian cancer shows that elevated levels of the CA-125 protein still remains the best predictor of disease progression. The CA-125 test has been around for several decades and can help determine the effectiveness of cancer treatments in patient with ovarian cancer, but it is not very useful as a screening tool. A report released in March in Cancer Prevention Research indicated none of the 28 potential serum markers tested in the study outperformed the CA-125.
To be an effective screening tool, the biomarker would need to detects signals from the tumors six months before diagnosis. CA-125 has it strongest signal within six months after diagnosis.
Although the results may seem disappointing, the findings provide information that will help future efforts to detect the disease early. Many researchers have said that if no single marker could detect ovarian cancer, then panels of markers might get the job done.
To learn more about this work, visit this National Cancer Institute Bulletin site.