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Cancers (Basel). 2012 Dec 21;5(1):1-11. doi: 10.3390/cancers5010001.

Clinical Significance of CK19 Negative Breast Cancer.

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Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Kumamoto City Hospital, 1-1-60 Kotoh, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto 862-8505, Japan.


Analysis of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) by means of One-Step Nucleic Acid Amplification (OSNA) is gaining widespread use as a quick and accurate method. This assay detects the expression level of cytokeratin 19 (CK19) which is present in some but not all breast tumors. In this study, the clinical significance of negative CK19 was investigated in 219 cases of primary breast cancer. In 179 patients with clinically negative nodes, OSNA and imprint smear cytology of SLN were performed simultaneously. The OSNA revealed a node-positive rate of 24.6%. Negative CK19 correlated significantly with negative ER/PgR and higher Ki-67 values, and marginally with higher nuclear grade and p53 overexpression. The triple negative subtype showed lower CK19 expression. OSNA revealed that one of the negative CK19 cases was actually a false negative but this was corrected with the use of the imprint smear cytology. In conclusion, CK19 negativity reflected the aggressiveness of primary breast cancer. OSNA assay used to analyze SLN was useful, but there is a possibility that it will mistakenly detect false negatives in CK19 negative tumors. Therefore, in tumors with negative CK19, the imprint smear cytology may be more useful in cases with macrometastasis.

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