Detection of micrometastases in patients with primary breast cancer

Lancet. 1983 Dec 3;2(8362):1271-4. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(83)91150-9.


An immunocytochemical method was used to screen smears obtained at primary surgery from multiple bone-marrow sites in 110 patients with breast cancer; at this time other techniques did not reveal metastases. Tumour cells were detected in the bone-marrow of 31 (28%) patients. The number of cells detected ranged from 1 to greater than 500; none was detected in conventionally stained smears. Patients in whom conventional criteria indicated a very poor prognosis seemed more likely to have such micrometastases. A further follow-up period is required to determine whether patients with micrometastases relapse earlier than those in whom no tumour cells are demonstrable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis*
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis*
  • Bone Marrow / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Middle Aged


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Surface