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Proteomic early detection of ovarian cancer

Over 80% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed when the disease is at a late stage, with a consequent five-year survival rate of only around 35%. New technologies for the detection of early-stage ovarian cancer would therefore be of great benefit. In February 8 online edition of The Lancet, Emanuel Petricoin III and colleagues from the US Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, show that computer-assisted detection of proteomic patterns could help in screening for ovarian cancer.

Petricoin et al. analysed blood proteins of women with ovarian cancer using mass spectroscopy and a novel computer-searching algorithm. They found a discriminatory proteomic pattern that correctly identified all 50 ovarian cancer cases and 63 of the 66 non-cancer cases from a set of 116 masked serum samples (sensitivity 100%; specificity 95%; positive predictive value 94%; Lancet 2002, 359:572-577).

"These findings justify a prospective population-based assessment of proteomic pattern technology, as a screening tool for all stages of ovarian cancer in high-risk and general populations," commented Emanuel Petricoin III.


  1. Petricoin III EF, Ardekani AM, Hitt BA, Levine PJ, Fusaro VA, Steinberg SM, Simone GS, Fishman DA, Kohn EC, Liotta LA: Use of proteomic patterns in serum to identify ovarian cancer. Lancet 2002, 359:572-577. , []

  2. Food and Drug Administration, []

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Toma, T. Proteomic early detection of ovarian cancer. Genome Biol 3, spotlight-20020213-01 (2002).

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