Background: The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in bone marrow (BM) of clinically progression-free prostate cancer (PC) patients at least 2 years after curatively intended radiotherapy (RT) with or without adjuvant hormone treatment.
Methods: All patients were T(1-3)N(0)M(0) with intermediate or high risk of progression. Median time from RT to BM sampling was 5 years (2-8). A standardized immunocytochemical method applying the anticytokeratin antibodies AE1/AE3 was used for DTCs detection in 130 patients. Morphological characterization of immunostained cells was performed to exclude false positive cells. The post-treatment BM was explored in relation to pre-treatment risk factors, treatment strategy and serum levels of Testosterone and PSA at the time of BM sampling. Longitudinal changes in BM status were studied in a sub-group of 109 patients who also had donated BM prior to treatment.
Results: Post-treatment BM-aspirates were positive for DTCs in 17% of cases without correlation to any of the tested variables. Out of 14 patients who had DTCs in BM prior to treatment, all but one had become post-treatment negative. Out of 95 patients with pre-treatment negative BM status, 18 (19%) had become post-treatment positive.
Conclusions: DTCs in BM were found in 17% of clinically progression-free PC patients following RT. The detection of these cells may provide PSA-independent prognostic information remaining to be explored by prolonged follow-up.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.