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Hum Pathol. 1989 Mar;20(3):281-7.

Gross cystic disease fluid protein-15 as a marker for breast cancer: immunohistochemical analysis of 690 human neoplasms and comparison with alpha-lactalbumin.

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  • 1Division of Surgical Pathology, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis.


The identification of metastatic carcinoma of the breast may be difficult in the absence of a previous history of breast cancer. Various immunophenotypic markers have been introduced to aid in this process. A monoclonal antibody directed at a 15-kilodalton (kd) gross cystic disease fluid protein (GCDFP-15) was applied immunohistochemically to paraffin sections of 105 breast cancers and 585 nonmammary malignancies in order to assess its value in this context. In addition, GCDFP-15 was compared with another putative mammary epithelial marker, alpha-lactalbumin (ALA), with respect to sensitivity and specificity for a diagnosis of breast carcinoma. Overall, the rates of specificity and sensitivity and the predictive value of a positive result for GCDFP-15 were 95%, 74%, and 74%, respectively. Corresponding statistical parameters for ALA were 50%, 50%, and 23%. A consistent congruency between the reactivity patterns of primary and metastatic breast cancers was noted for GCDFP-15 but not for ALA. Besides mammary carcinomas, the major tumor types that expressed GCDFP-15 were carcinomas of the salivary glands, sweat glands, and prostate. Since the latter three types of lesions are unlikely to be diagnosed as metastatic breast cancer, statistical indices were recalculated after exclusion of these three tumor types. Following this exclusion, the adjusted rate of specificity of GCDFP-15 and the predictive value of a positive result for a diagnosis of metastatic carcinoma of the breast were each 99%. In contrast, predictive parameters for ALA were not altered. These results show that GCDFP-15 is a specific marker for breast cancer and is superior to ALA in this respect.

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