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Keratin 19 mRNA measurement to detect micrometastases in lymph nodes in breast cancer patients.

British Journal of Cancer
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Medicine


We have used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to measure keratin 19 mRNA in order to detect breast cancer cells invading axillary lymph nodes. In a consecutive series of 125 patients with primary breast cancer, 75 patients had no evidence of lymph node involvement by conventional histology. A total of 530 lymph nodes from these patients were examined and 106 (20%) gave a keratin 19 product detectable by Southern hybridisation. This correlated with primary tumour size (P<0.001). These 106 nodes came from 23 patients. Thus, using this technique, 23/75 (30.6%) patients were found to have evidence of lymph node involvement who would otherwise have been designated lymph node negative.

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