Evaluation of a RT-PCR based routine screening tool for the detection of disseminated epithelial cells in the bone marrow of breast cancer patients

Sven Becker*, Graziella Becker-Pergola, Malgorzata Banys, Natalia Krawczyk, Diethelm Wallwiener, Erich Solomayer, Christina Schuetz, Tanja Fehm

*Corresponding author for this work
17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Numerous studies have shown that the presence of clinically occult disseminated tumor cells (DTC's) in the bone marrow (BM) of breast cancer patients is associated with an unfavourable clinical outcome. Immunocytochemistry (ICC) remains the gold standard for their detection. While assays based on RT-PCR are available, they have not been used for routine detection of DTC's. Methods: To assess the quality of the assay, we performed a direct comparison of DTC detection rates in a large cohort of 385 patients using both standardized ICC and real-time RT-PCR protocols. Correlation rates were assessed, and results were compared with clinical data. Results: A significant correlation between ICC and RT-PCR was observed (P < 0.01). Positivity rates were similar (both 35%) and the results of both methods agreed in 73% of cases (280/385). Conclusions: We describe a real-time RT-PCR based protocol for DTC-detection that has been specifically designed for routine clinical laboratory use. As such, RT-PCR has the potential to become an alternative testing method for BM evaluation in breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Volume117
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
ISSN0167-6806
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 09.2009

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