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Cancer Res. 2000 Feb 15;60(4):916-21.

High lactate levels predict likelihood of metastases, tumor recurrence, and restricted patient survival in human cervical cancers.

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Institute of Physiology & Pathophysiology, University of Mainz, Germany.


Pathophysiological parameters such as vascular density and tissue oxygen pressure can influence tumor malignancy and patient survival. Observations from our group showed that metastatic spread of carcinomas of the uterine cervix and of head and neck cancers was closely correlated with the lactate concentration in the primary lesion. Because these results were obtained in a low number of patients, the present investigation was performed to verify such a correlation in a larger population. Cryobiopsies were taken at first diagnosis of cervical cancer from 34 patients. Tissue concentrations of ATP, glucose, and lactate in viable tumor regions of these biopsies were measured microscopically using the technique of imaging bioluminescence. There was no correlation between stage or grade and any of the metabolic parameters measured. ATP and glucose concentrations were not significantly different in metastatic and nonmetastatic primary tumors (P>0.05). However, lactate concentrations were significantly higher (P = 0.001) in tumors with metastatic spread (mean +/- SD, 10.0+/-2.9 micromol/g; n = 20) compared with malignancies in patients without metastases (6.3+/-2.8 micromol/g; n = 14). The majority of patients who suffered a recurrence of the disease (17 of a total of 22 patients) or died (15 of 20) within the observation period of up to 8 years belonged to the metastatic, i.e., high lactate group. A Kaplan-Meier analysis of the data showed that the overall and disease-free survival probabilities of patients having low tumor lactate values were significantly higher compared with patients with high tumor lactate concentrations (P = 0.015 and 0.014, respectively). We conclude that tumor lactate content may be used as a prognostic parameter in the clinic. Furthermore, these findings are in accordance with data from the literature showing that the presence of hypoxia in cervical tumors is associated with a poorer patient survival.

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