Are preoperative serum cancer antigen 125 levels a prognostic factor for outcome in epithelial ovarian cancer? A systematic review

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Muhammad Adamu Shittu
Stephen Oyewole Olaoye
Farouk Kabir Umar


Ovarian Cancer, Cancer Antigen 125, Outcome, Survival


Background: Most patients with epithelial ovarian cancers (EOC) present with advanced-stage disease because of non-specific symptoms and lack of reliable strategies for early diagnosis. Cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) is suggested as a useful prognostic biomarker, its serum level is raised in over 80.0% of patients with EOC. Primary debulking surgery (PDS) followed by chemotherapy is the conventional treatment, but neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by interval debulking surgery (NACT-IDS) is offered to patients with unresectable disease. There are inconsistencies regarding the role of preoperative CA-125 serum levels to adopt in stratifying patients for treatment choice that offers the most benefit. This review aimed to determine the role of preoperative CA-125 levels in predicting optimal cytoreduction and the association between optimal cytoreduction and survival outcome in patients with EOC.

Methodology: Three electronic databases CINAHL, Cochrane library and PubMed were searched for potentially relevant articles from 2016 to 2021 on the role of preoperative CA-125 levels in predicting optimal cytoreduction and survival in patients with epithelial ovarian carcinomas.

Conclusion: In patients who underwent NACT-IDS, a lower preoperative CA-125 value is a predictor of optimal cytoreduction and an increase in preoperative CA-125 value is consistently associated with a decrease in optimal cytoreduction. There was insufficient data to assess overall survival. However, a raised preoperative CA-125 level is poor predictor of chance of achieving optimal cytoreduction and the rate of optimal cytoreduction was a weak predictor of overall survival in women who had primary debulking surgery.

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