Comparison of oncogene mutation detection and telomerase activity for the molecular staging of non-small cell lung cancer

Steven A. Ahrendt, Stephen C Yang, Li Wu, William H. Westra, Jin Jen, Joseph A. Califano, David Sidransky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Novel oncogene mutation detection techniques have demonstrated that standard histopathological examination may fail to detect clinically significant metastatic cancer cells. Recently, telomerase activity has been detected in most immortal cell lines and human tumors, potentially providing a novel diagnostic marker. We compared standard histopathological examination with the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay and either a p53 plaque hybridization or a K-ras mutation ligation assay in the lymph nodes of 12 patents with surgically resectable non-small cell lung cancer. Telomerase activity was detected in 10 of 10 (100%) evaluable tumors. Eight of 9 (89%) histopathologically positive lymph nodes were telomerase positive, and 26 of 48 (54%) histopathologically negative lymph nodes were telomerase positive. In comparison, oligonucleotide plaque hybridization detected metastases in all 3 histopathologically positive nodes and in 3 of 27 histopathologically negative nodes. Similarly, the K-ras mutation ligation assay detected metastases in all 6 histopathologically positive lymph nodes examined and in 1 of 21 histopathologically negative lymph nodes. Thus, most of the 'positive' nodes by telomerase assay did not harbor occult neoplastic cells that shared the same genetic alteration as the primary tumor. The high rate of false positives associated with the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay limits its role in staging lymph nodes in patients with non- small cell lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1207-1214
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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