BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual

Analysis of Proteomic Patterns in Serum for Early Detection of Cancer


Proteomic patterns are patterns of proteins present within a clinical sample (serum, urine, tissue) used as a diagnostic ‘fingerprint’ that is proposed to provide an early diagnosis for some types of cancer. The proteomic pattern does not rely on the identification of any single protein or biomarker. For pattern recognition, one technology used is called surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF MS), which is a type of mass spectrometry, that measures the relative quantity of different proteins in a particular sample.




Published scientific evidence in the form of well-designed studies in peer-reviewed journals regarding the analysis of proteomic patterns in serum to identify ovarian, prostate or other types of cancer continues to be lacking. There is insufficient evidence to permit conclusions regarding the use of this technology.


BlueCross BlueShield Association. Evidence Positioning System. (11:2018). Proteomic testing for systemic therapy in non-small-cell lung cancer (2.04.125). Retrieved October 11, 2019 from (49 articles and/or guidelines reviewed)

Conrads, T., Zhou, M., Petricoin, E., Liotta, L., & Veenstra, T. (2003). Cancer diagnosis using proteomic patterns. Expert Review in Molecular Diagnostics, 3(4), 411-421. (Level 5 evidence)

Lim, L., Looi, M., Zakaria, S., Sagap, I., Rose, I., Chin, S., et al. (2016). Identification of differentially expressed proteins in the serum of colorectal cancer patients using 2D-DIGE proteomics analysis. Pathology Oncology Research, 22, 169-177. (Level 4 evidence)

Shao, S., Neely, B. A., Kao, T. C., Eckhaus, J., Bourgeois, J., Brooks, J., et al. (2016). Proteomic profiling of serial pre-diagnostic serum samples for early detection of colon cancer in the U. S. military. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention, 2016, Epub ahead of print. Abstract retrieved February 2, 2017 from PubMed database.

Tanase, C., Albulescu, R., Codrici, E., Popescu, D., Mihai, S., Enciu, A., et al. (2015). Circulating biomarker panels for targeted therapy in brain tumors. Future Oncology, 11 (3), 511-524. (Level 5 evidence)

Xu, Y., Zhuo, J., Duan, Y., Shi, B., Chen, X. Zhang, X., et al. (2014). Construction of protein profile classification model and screening of proteomic signature of acute leukemia. International Journal of Clinical Expert Pathology, 7 (9), 5569-5581. (Level 4 evidence)




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