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Int J Cancer. 1997 Feb 20;74(1):75-80.

Detection of squamous-cell carcinoma antigen-expressing tumour cells in blood by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in cancer of the uterine cervix.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


We used a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction method for squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) antigen mRNA to detect circulating tumour cells in patients with carcinoma of the uterine cervix. The sensitivity of the method, as determined by cell spiking experiments, was 10 cultured A431 cells among 10(6) white blood cells. Circulating tumour cells were detected in 6 of 15 patients. In our control group of 24 women, SCC antigen mRNA was detected in 2 pregnant women at term. We followed up the patients for 24 months after sampling and evaluated the outcome. Three out of 6 patients positive for SCC antigen mRNA have relapsed. Additionally, 1 patient has developed breast cancer. In the group of 9 patients negative for SCC antigen mRNA there has been 1 relapse and 1 case of progression of disease. These results suggest that detection of SCC antigen mRNA in peripheral blood by RT-PCR could be useful for staging and evaluation of prognosis in epidermoid carcinoma of the uterine cervix.

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