Sialosyl-Tn antigen as a marker of gastric cancer progression: an international study

Int J Cancer. 1996 Jun 21;69(3):193-9. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0215(19960621)69:3<193::AID-IJC8>3.0.CO;2-V.


Sialosyl-Tn, a mucin-associated carbohydrate antigen, is not expressed by normal mucus-producing cells of the stomach but becomes expressed in metaplastic, pre-malignant and malignant gastric tissues. Reports vary as to the frequency of STn expression and its prognostic role in gastric cancer. To determine whether these differences might be due to inter-country variations in gastric cancer biology, we immunohistochemically analyzed 340 gastric cancers from 2 countries at high-risk (high incidence) for gastric cancer (Japan and Chile), one with intermediate risk (Brazil) and one with low-risk (USA). Expression of STn was correlated with clinico-pathological features of the tumors and with cancer-related survival. Regardless of country, the frequency of STn-positive tumors was lower in non-invasive ("early") than in advanced gastric cancer. Consequently, high-risk countries where early gastric cancer is more common demonstrated a lower overall frequency of STn-positive tumors. In all 4 countries, STn expression directly correlated with depth of invasion, stage, and lymph node involvement. In addition, STn expression correlated with a poor prognosis in all 4 countries, but the effect of STn on survival was not independent of tumor stage. Our findings indicate the need to consider the inherent gastric cancer risk and prevalence of early gastric cancer in the study population when reporting frequency of STn expression in gastric cancer. Regardless of country, however, STn expression is a marker of gastric cancer progression suggesting that cancer-associated mucins play a role in the malignant behavior of this tumor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Chile / epidemiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / mortality
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • sialosyl-Tn antigen