Detection of circulating prostate carcinoma cells via an enhanced reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay in patients with early stage prostate carcinoma: Independence from other pretreatment characteristics

Ronald D. Ennis, Aaron E. Katz, Glen M. De Vries, Daniel F. Heitjan, Kathleen M. O'Toole, Mark Rubin, Ralph Buttyan, Mitchell C. Benson, Peter B. Schiff

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36 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Circulating prostate cells can be detected in the venous blood of patients with clinically localized prostate carcinoma by applying reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) techniques using primers specific for the prostate specific antigen (PSA) gene. This study evaluates whether the detection of circulating cells correlates with established prognostic factors, treatment, and pathologic stage. METHODS. Two hundred and twenty seven patients with clinically localized adenocarcinoma of the prostate had an RT-PCR assay performed as part of their staging evaluation. No treatment decisions were made on the basis of the RT-PCR results. Of these, 156 patients were treated with radical prostatectomy (RP) and 71 with radical external beam radiotherapy (EBRT). Forty-eight patients were treated with hormonal therapy prior to RP (n = 39) or EBRT (n = 9). The prognostic factors analyzed for their relationship to RT-PCR were clinical stage, pretreatment serum PSA levels, Gleason score of the biopsy specimen, and Gleason score of the surgical specimen. An analysis of the relationship between treatment and RT-PCR results was also performed. Multivariate logistic regression analysis of predictors of RT-PCR positivity was performed as well. In addition, univariate and multivariate analyses of predictors of pathologic stage, including RT-PCR, were performed. RESULTS. Sixty-one patients (26.9%) had a positive RT-PCR assay. There was no relationship between clinical stage, pretreatment PSA, biopsy Gleason score, or surgical Gleason score and RT-PCR positivity. In univariate analysis, patients treated with RP had a higher rate of RT-PCR positivity than patients treated with EBRT (P = 0.054). However, in multivariate logistic regression analysis no factor, including treatment with RP, was a significant predictor of RT-PCR positivity. RT-PCR and pretreatment PSA predicted pathologic stage in univariate and multivariate analyses (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.002, respectively). CONCLUSIONS. The detection of circulating prostate cells using RT-PCR occurs in approximately 25% of early stage prostate carcinoma patients and is independent of other established prognostic factors. In addition, a positive RT-PCR assay is a strong predictor of pathologic upstaging in patients with clinically organ-confined disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2402-2408
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 1997



  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Prostate adenocarcinoma
  • Prostate carcinoma
  • Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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