Occult tumor cells detected in autologous blood stem cell harvests have no impact on 5 year outcomes for breast cancer patients with 4-9 positive nodes treated with adjuvant high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation

E. Reed, A. Kessinger, B. Murphy, S. Tarantolo, M. Traystman, J. Graham Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Breast cancer cells have been detected in autologous blood stem cell collections of early stage breast cancer patients, but their clinical significance is undefined. From October 1993 to August 1998, 32 consecutive Stage II breast cancer patients with 4-9-positive nodes underwent stem cell apheresis. The patients were treated with cyclophosphamide 1.75 gm/m2, etoposide 400 mg/m2 and cisplatin 50 mg/m2 daily for 3 days, followed by infusion of the autologous cells. Cytospins of cells from each apheresis collections and from an aliquot of three pooled collections were examined for cytokeratin expression using an immunocytochemical assay. The cells were considered positive for tumor if at least one cell with tumor morphology stained positively for cytokeratin. Negative aliquots were confirmed with RT-PCR. Six patients (19%) had positive collections. In total, 24 patients (75%) were disease free a median of 61 (30-86) months after transplant. Eight patients relapsed at a median of 17 (8-27 months after transplant. Four of the disease-free patients and two of the relapsed patients had positive apheresis collections. There was no significant correlation between the presence of detectable tumor cells in the graft product and outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-574
Number of pages4
JournalBone marrow transplantation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003



  • Autograft
  • Breast cancer
  • Tumor cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation

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