Specificity of genetic biomarker studies in cancer research: A systematic review

Garrett Green, Ruben Carmona, Kaveh Zakeri, Chih Han Lee, Saif Borgan, Zaid Marhoon, Andrew Sharabi, Loren K. Mell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


As genetic information becomes more readily available, there is increasing demand from both patients and providers to develop personalized approaches to cancer care. Investigators are increasingly reporting numbers of studies correlating genomic signatures and other biomarkers to survival endpoints. The extent to which cancer-specific and non-specific effects are reported in contemporary studies is unknown. In this review of 85 high-impact studies associating genetic biomarkers with cancer outcomes, 95% reported significant associations with event-free survival outcomes, yet less than half reported effects on a cancer-specific endpoint. This methodology leaves open the possibility that observed associations are unrelated to cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0156489
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Green, G., Carmona, R., Zakeri, K., Lee, C. H., Borgan, S., Marhoon, Z., Sharabi, A., & Mell, L. K. (2016). Specificity of genetic biomarker studies in cancer research: A systematic review. PLoS One, 11(7), [e0156489]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0156489