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J Korean Surg Soc. 2001 Jan;60(1):29-35. Korean. Original Article.
Lee RA , Kang HJ , Kim SW , Kang HS , Kim SS , Yun YK , Oh SK , Choe KJ , Noh DY .
Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Surgery, Seoul City Borame Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, Ulsan University, Seoul, Korea.

PURPOSE: The detection of axillary lymph-node micrometastases in breast-cancer patients by using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) may provide a good guide for postoperative therapy. To evaluate effectiveness of RT-PCR for the detection of micrometastasis, we have compared the results of conventional, immunohistochemical (IHC) staining with those of RT-PCR. METHODS: We conducted RT-PCR amplifications of MUC1 and cytokeratin (CK) 19 on lymph nodes from 40 breast- cancer patients and conducted IHC staining for cytokeratin. The results of histological examination and cytokeratin IHC staining were compared with the RT-PCR results for the detection of lymph-node micrometastases. RESULTS: Nineteen of 40 cases (47.5%) were lymph-node positive and twenty-one cases (52.5%) were lymph-node negative. Using RT-PCR MUC1 and CK19 expressions were detected in all positive lymph nodes and in 4 (19.0%) and 5 (23.8%), in negative nodes, respectively. Not all positive nodes were stained by IHC (94.7%), and none of the negative lymph nodes were stained by IHC. Thus, IHC staining was ineffective in detecting micrometastases. CONCLUSION: Detection of MUC1 and CK19 by using RT- PCR can be a more accurate and useful method than IHC staining for the detection of axillary lymph-node micrometastases in breast cancer.

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