WASHINGTON — Elevated levels of the Bcl-2 protein in urine were associated with 92% of ovarian cancers in a pilot study of 95 women, Patricia Kruk, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
“Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate among gynecologic malignancies,” said Dr. Kruk. “It is usually detected in the very late stages, because we don't have very good detection systems and the women are generally asymptomatic.”
The average amount of Bcl-2 in the urine of 36 women with ovarian cancer was more than 2 ng/mL, which was significantly greater—at least 10 times greater in most cases—than Bcl-2 levels in the urine of 21 healthy women and 38 women with benign gynecologic disease.
Urinary levels of Bcl-2 decreased up to 100% after patients had debulking surgery, noted Dr. Kruk, who heads a cancer research team at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Bcl-2 levels remained low during the course of chemotherapy, but increased significantly among patients whose disease recurred.
In contrast, urine samples from the healthy women showed almost no measurable Bcl-2. “All the women had normal renal function, so Bcl-2 was not suggestive of renal dysfunction,” Dr. Kruk noted. Urinary levels of Bcl-2 were not related to tumor size, but increased levels of Bcl-2 were correlated with increased tumor stage and grade. In addition, only 65% of the patients with serious carcinomas were diagnosed using the standard method of blood test results for the tumor marker CA125. “We are cautiously optimistic and excited about our results,” said Dr. Kruk.