We developed a sensitive and specific method for the detection of epithelial cancer cells in effusions with a two-stage molecular-based assay which combined enrichment for cancer cells by immunomagnetic bead selection and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detection of epithelial glycoprotein 2 (EGP-2) RNA. Preliminary experiments indicated that immunobead selection was essential to avoid occasional false-positive RT-PCR results, and this method detected ten breast cancer cells electively added to 107 cytologically negative effusion cells. We studied 110 cases of pleural (n = 68) and peritoneal (n = 42) effusions (30 from patients with known carcinoma and 80 from those without known carcinoma), and the results were compared with cytological findings. Of 18 effusions that were cytologically positive or suspicious for malignant cells, 17 (94%) were positive for EGP-2 RNA (the one negative sample was from a patient who recently received combination chemotherapy). Of 92 cytologically negative samples, 11 (12%) were positive for EGP-2, including six patients with a history of previous or current carcinoma. Our method appears to be highly specific and increases the sensitivity of detection of malignant cells; it may be a useful adjunct to routine cytopathological examination.
- Cytokeratin 19
- Epithelial glycoprotein 2
- Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research