The value of bone marrow examination for tumor staging in breast cancer

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1988;114(4):425-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02128190.


The purpose of our study was to investigate the value of cytokeratin antibodies for identifying bone marrow involvement in breast cancer patients who showed no evidence of distant metastases using noninvasive tumor staging procedures. Bone marrow for histological (biopsy) and immunocytochemical (aspiration) evaluation was obtained from the anterior iliac crest from 50 unselected consecutive women during surgical treatment of the primary tumor. The histological examination was done on nondecalcified bone sections. The immunocytochemical studies were carried out on interface smears of the bone marrow aspirates. For staining, cytokeratin antibodies (PKK 1) and the immune alkaline phosphatase method was used. Cytokeratin-positive cells were found in 4 of the 50 cases (8%). Of those 4 patients, however, 2 also showed evidence of neoplastic bone marrow infiltration histologically. We thus were able to prove that immunocytochemistry on aspirates is superior to conventional histology in identifying tumor in bone marrow. Nonetheless, our results clearly fell below the rate found in previous studies where epithelial membrane antigen antibodies were used.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*