OBJECTIVE: The grim ovarian cancer statistics are attributed to the fact that most women typically present with widespread disease at the time of initial diagnosis. Our current diagnostic tools, such as pelvic examination and standard ultrasound, are inadequate to detect early-stage epithelial ovarian cancer. In recent years there has been an explosion of important advances in biomedical engineering, proteomic technologies, and computational analyses that has led to the identification of hundreds of previously unknown proteins unique to the pathophysiology of ovarian cancer, some of which are currently under clinical validation. At present, no one biomarker exists with 100% specificity and sensitivity for the accurate detection of early-stage epithelial ovarian cancer.
CONCLUSION: As the search for a panel of biomarkers detecting cancer, let alone early-stage disease, progresses, diagnostic imaging will continue to play a critical role to confirm or refute these biomarker assays. Interestingly, recent studies using contrast-enhanced ultrasound have shown potential as an early-detection tool by detecting the aberrant vascularity required for tumor growth before the development of a mass. Thus, we propose that the use of proteomic-based biomarker discovery and contrast-enhanced ultrasound may serve as a promising combination to help accurately identify early-stage epithelial ovarian cancer to improve women’s health care.
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