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Int J Surg Pathol. 2008 Apr;16(2):119-26. doi: 10.1177/1066896907311901. Epub 2008 Apr 2.

Isolated tumor cells and circulating CK20 mRNA in pN0 colorectal cancer patients.

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State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China, Sir Y K Pao Centre for Cancer, Department of Clinical Oncology, Hong Kong Cancer Institute and Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.


Micrometastases in lymph nodes and blood may provide important prognostic information. In this study, cytokeratin 20 (CK20) positive cells in lymph nodes and circulating CK20 mRNA were studied using 57 paraffin-embedded lymph node specimens and blood from 24 patients with pN0 colorectal cancer (CRC), respectively. Results showed that 29 out of 56 (52%) lymph node specimens had CK20-positive cells (range: 1-35). Follow-up of the patients for 12 months indicated that 4 patients (7%) had CRC metastases to liver, lung, and bone. In addition, 8 out of 24 (33%) samples had at least 2-fold circulating CK20 mRNA expression higher than the pooled normal sample. This study provides evidence that CK20-positive cells were found in the lymph nodes and differentially expressed circulating CK20 mRNA was also detected in the blood from patients with pN0 CRC. Long-term follow-up is necessary to study their prognostic use in patients with non-metastatic CRC.

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