Matsuda, J., Kitagawa, Y., Fujii, H. et al. Annals of Surgical Oncology (2004) 11: 250S. doi:10.1007/BF02523639
The clinical significance of micrometastasis in sentinel nodes (SNs) may differ in various organs. In particular, the prognostic value of SN micrometastases detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is still controversial. We investigated the diagnostic and therapeutic significance of nodal molecular metastasis detected, by nested RT-PCR for cytokeratin (CK) 19 mRNA in gastrointestinal cancer. In 51 cases with GI tract cancer treated by standard curative resection, SNs were identified by a radio-guided method. In 10 of 51 patients, 25 SNs and 3 non-SNs were histologically negative and RT-PCR positive. Three non-SNs with positive CK19 mRNA were randomly sampled from the same basin where histologically positive SNs were identified. Immunohistochemical analysis of six additional step sections obtained at 30-μm intervals with use of an anticytokeratin antibody showed clearly recognizable histological metastases in 4 of 25 histologically negative/RT-PCR-positive SNs (16%). In one case of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma with nodal micrometastasis identified by CK19 RT-PCR, extranodal local recurrence in the SN basin (left supraclavicular basin) was observed 6 months postoperatively. These findings suggest that nodal micrometastasis detected by nested RT-PCR has some clinical significance in GI cancer. Molecular assessment of the SN may be a valuable tool to complement routine histological examination for GI cancers.