New Biomarkers Can Detect Ovarian Cancer
Infertility is associated with an increased incidence of ovarian cancer. A new study shows that mesothelin, a ovarian cancer antigen, appear in women who are infertile and have a increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. These study may suggest that in the future will be possible to identify which women with infertility have a high risk for developing ovarian cancer.
This new findings are extremely important, because medical tests which are available today are unable to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages and this is the reason why death rates from this disease are so high.
The researchers said that the clinical significance of this research is to increase awareness in general population, because it has been known for a long time, through epidemiology studies, that women with infertility, are having a higher risk to develop ovarian cancer, due to treatment assistance to become pregnant and also, women who never had children have a increased risk for ovarian cancer. This study is important because is showing that the researchers can identify an additional risk factor, that would help doctors to identify women with increase risk for ovarian cancer.
The authors of this study found that mesothelin antibodies are present in a high frequency in women who have a prematurely reduced ovarian function, including ovulatory dysfunction, ovarian failure and infertility. In contrast, women with endometriosis, who also have a high risk to develop ovarian cancer, did not have mesothelin antibodies in their blood.
Ovarian cancer is usually detected in advanced stages and for this reason, the disease has a poor prognosis. Current diagnostic tests are ineffective for early diagnosis and identifying this new possible biomarkers could be helpful to diagnose ovarian caner in earlier stages and can provide targets to improve the treatment of this disease during all stages.
With this study, researchers identified that CA125, HE4 and mesothelin are possible biomarkers which can detect ovarian cancer, before a clinical diagnosis is emitted. That study showed a statistically increased risk for ovarian cancer, in women who were positive for this biomarkers.
Many of the epidemiological studies have shown that exist an association between infertility and ovarian cancer and this association is independent to infertility drug treatment. Women with different types of infertility have different risks for developing ovarian cancer, noted the researchers, who highlighted that some women with unexplained infertility have positive mesothelin antibodies, which can indicate the fact that an autoimmune disorder is targeting the ovary. Other women with infertility have poor response to estrogen and to follicle-stimulating hormone, which has been associated with the presence of mesothelin antibodies. Women with ovarian cancer have positive antibodies which are similar to those found in women with infertility.
For this study, the researchers collected a total of 329 probes from women, 109 were from women with infertility, 28 from women with ovarian cancer, 24 from women with benign ovarian tumors or ovarian cysts, and 152 from healthy women. They also collected probes from women with infertility categories caused by endometriosis (23 probes), ovulatory dysfunction (17 probes), premature ovarian failure (25 probes) and unexplained infertility ( 44 probes).
The result was that mesothelin antigen levels and mesothelin antibodies were significantly higher in women with ovarian cancer, benign conditions and unexplained infertility, than in healthy women. The researchers noted that this association is not conclusive because some women have higher levels of mesothelin, some have mesothelin antibody, and some have both, but they observed that most patients with ovarian carcinoma had circulating mesothelin antigen. With the exception of unexplained infertility, mesothelin antigen was not significantly higher in the other types of infertility as compared with normal women.