Epigenetic biomarkers in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer

Jonathan G. Bijron, Guus M. Bol, Rene H M Verheijen, Paul J. Van Diest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current diagnostic methods for ovarian cancer have limited performance. Recent advances within the field of epigenetics have shifted the clinical implementation of epigenetic biomarkers as a diagnostic approach from a dream for the future to a present-day consideration. Patients could potentially benefit greatly from this novel diagnostic approach. Areas covered: Epigenetic mechanisms in cancer are discussed, with a focus on potential diagnostic epigenetic biomarkers in ovarian cancer in tissue and body fluids. A literature search was undertaken (on 22-09-2011) for these subjects using the search syntax ((((((((((((((("ovarian") OR "ovary") OR "ovarian cancer") OR "ovarian cancers") OR "cancer of the ovary") OR "tumour of the ovary") OR "ovarian tumor") OR "ovarian tumors") OR "ovarian tumour") OR "ovarian tumours") OR "ovarian neoplasm") OR "ovarian neoplasms" OR "ovarian carcinoma") OR "ovarian carcinomas") OR "carcinoma of the ovary")) AND ((((((((("epigenetics") OR "epigenetic") OR "epigenome") OR "methylation") OR "hypermethylation") OR "chromatin modification") OR "histone") OR "histones") OR "acetylation") Expert opinion: To date no single epigenetic biomarker is able to accurately detect early ovarian cancer in either tissue or body fluids. A panel of epigenetic biomarkers based on aberrant DNA methylation in body fluids, especially blood, has the best chance of being implemented in clinical practice, as it is semi-invasive. However, progression toward clinical use is hampered by the lack of detection techniques combining high throughput and accuracy with low cost, by difficulties in establishing reliable reference values and by the heterogeneous nature of ovarian cancer. Until addressed, implementation as a diagnostic measure complimenting current techniques in select cases seems a far way to go, and implementation as a primary screening tool is yet even farther away.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-438
Number of pages18
JournalExpert Opinion on Medical Diagnostics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarkers
  • borderline tumor
  • chromatin modification
  • diagnosis
  • epigenetics
  • methylation
  • ovarian cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Molecular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Epigenetic biomarkers in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this