Objective: To study the telomerase activity in samples of breast fine-needle-aspiration specimens and to investigate its potential clinical implications.
Methods: Ninety nine fine-needle aspiration specimens from 83 patients with breast cancers, 12 with benign lesions and 4 with breast inflammation, were studied for the presence of telomerase activity by a PCR-based telomere repeat amplification protocol (PCR-TRAP).
Results: Among 83 fine-needle aspiration specimens from patients with breast cancer, telomerase activity was detected in 61 of 69 cytologic-positive specimens, 5 of 7 cytologic-suspicious specimens and 4 of 7 cytologic-negative specimens. Sensitivity of telomerase activity detection was 84.3% (70/83); the coincidence rate between telomerase detection and cytologic confirmation was 77.1% (64/83). Of 12 specimens from patients with benign breast lesions, 4 were positive for telomerase activity, but 4 specimens from patients with breast inflammation were all negative. The Combined use of cytological and telomerase detection can improve the detection rates from 83.1% (69/83) to 93.9% (78/83).
Conclusion: Detection of telomerase in breast tissue samples by fine-needle aspiration is a sensitive and specific method, which implies that it would be helpful in preoperative cytological diagnosis of breast cancer.