Background: Detection of micrometastasis is an important problem of clinical significance for a better understanding and control of tumor progression, which will improve patients' survival time. Tumor cells in bone marrow (BM) aspirates are indicative of the general disseminative metastasis in patients with early breast cancer and characterization of breast cancers by various tumor markers which are appropriate for the identification of high risk groups.
Materials and methods: Bone marrow aspirates were obtained from 44 breast cancer patients at the time of surgery. To identify micrometastases in bone marrow, an immunocytochemical assay for epithelial cytokeratin (CK) was performed at the second passage after selective culture. Cytokeratin-positive bone marrow disseminated cancer cells were observed in more than 90% of the patients. This high incidence needs further investigation with bigger sample size to confirm. However, these results indicate that this technique can be used as an early diagnostic technique of bone marrow micrometastases in the patient with breast cancer thereby promoting the development of therapeutic strategy. High incidences need further investigation with bigger samples to confirm.