Purpose: This study evaluates the clinical significance of detection of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) mRNA in the dissected lymph nodes and peripheral blood samples of patients with gastrointestinal or breast carcinomas. Patients and Methods: A total of 406 lymph nodes obtained from 65 patients were analyzed by both histologic and molecular examination of CEA- specific reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Peripheral blood samples from another 102 patients were also analyzed by CEA-specific RT-PCR. Patients were followed up prospectively for 24 ± 12 months. Results: Of 406 lymph nodes, the positive detection rate increased from 20 % by histologic examination to 60% by RT-PCR examination. The recurrence rate was 40% in 15 cases showing positive results in both examinations, 14% in 29 cases showing histologically negative but RT-PCR positive results, and none in 21 cases showing negative results in both examinations. The positive detection rate for CEA mRNA in peripheral blood samples increased with advancing stage of disease. With respect to 62 curatively operated cases, CEA mRNA was detected in 12 cases. Four of these 12 cases developed metastatic disease after surgery whereas none of 50 cases negative by RT-PCR developed metastasis. Conclusion: It has been shown that RT-PCR is a powerful tool to detect CEA mRNA in the lymph nodes or the peripheral blood. This is potentially very useful to determine high-risk patients for metastasis. Serial analysis is warranted to assess the long-term significance of this method and its therapeutic and prognostic implications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research