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There is a fundamental need for semiconductor-based ultrasensitive nanosensors for detecting heterogeneous biomarkers associated with cancer, which do not have a well-defined molecular weight. Here we show that a nanoscale gated biological field effect transistor can be used for detecting the breast cancer serum biomarker protein CA15.3 down to levels of concentration less than 20 units/ml, relevant for clinical use. Our work extends the capability of nanowire sensors to a class of mucin-based heterogeneous protein biomarkers that are of fundamental importance to modern cancer detection.