Serum CA125 and HE4 as Biomarkers for the Detection of Endometrial Cancer and Associated High-Risk Features

Chloe E. Barr, Kelechi Njoku, Eleanor R. Jones, Emma J. Crosbie

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Early detection of endometrial cancer improves survival. Non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers would improve triage of symptomatic women for investigations. This study aimed to determine the diagnostic accuracy of serum Cancer Antigen 125 (CA125) and Human Epididymis 4 (HE4) for endometrial cancer and associated high-risk features. Serum samples from women investigated for gynaecological symptoms or diagnosed with endometrial cancer were analysed for CA125 and HE4. Conventional diagnostic metrics were calculated. In total, 755 women were included; 397 had endometrial cancer. Serum CA125 and HE4 were significantly elevated in cases compared with controls (both p < 0.001), and with pathological markers of disease severity (p < 0.05). A combination of CA125 and HE4 detected endometrial cancer with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.77 (95% CI: 0.74–0.81). In a model with body mass index (BMI) and parity, HE4 predicted endometrial cancer in pre-menopausal women with an AUC of 0.91 [sensitivity = 84.5%, specificity = 80.9% (p < 0.001)]. In women with abnormal ultrasound, HE4 ≥ 77 pmol/L improved specificity compared with imaging alone [68.6% (95% CI: 75.0–83.6) vs. 34.4% (95% CI: 27.1–42.3), respectively], but at a cost to sensitivity. HE4 ≥ 77 pmol/L improved the detection of myometrial invasion ≥50% in women with stage I disease compared with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) alone [sensitivity = 100% (95% CI: 54.1–100)]. CA125 ≥ 35 U/mL did not add to imaging. HE4 is a good predictor of poor prognostic features which could assist staging investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2834
Issue number11
Early online date17 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2022


  • endometrial cancer
  • diagnosis
  • HE4
  • CA125
  • imaging
  • non-invasive
  • biomarkers

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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