Promoter hypermethylation in sentinel lymph nodes as a marker for breast cancer recurrence

Hetty E. Carraway, Shelun Wang, Amanda Blackford, Mingzho Guo, Penny Powers, Stacie Jeter, Nancy E. Davidson, Pedram Argani, Kyle Terrell, James G. Herman, Julie R. Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes in histologically negative sentinel lymph nodes (HNSN) of early stage breast cancer patients has not been extensively studied. This study evaluates the methylation frequency and pattern in HNSN to determine if detection of hypermethylation of one or more genes is associated with an increased recurrence risk in node negative breast cancer. Experimental design In 1998, a prospective study of patients with early stage breast cancer and HNSN was initiated in order to correlate sentinel node analysis with clinical outcome. Nodal tissue was selected from 120 HNSN patients for methylation analysis in at least one and up to six sentinel nodes using a panel of nine genes. Corresponding primary breast tumors from 79 patients were also evaluated for hypermethylation. Methylation analysis was performed using nested Methylation Sensitive PCR (n-MSP). Logistical regression was used to evaluate the relationship between clinical recurrence and methylation status. Results Over a median follow-up of 79 months, 13 of the 120 patients had clinical recurrence. Hypermethylation of genes was frequently observed in HNSN, but there was no correlation of methylation pattern and clinical recurrence. However, increased frequency of gene methylation of the primary tumor correlated with clinical recurrence. Conclusions Although hypermethylation of multiple genes occurs frequently in HNSN of breast cancer patients, it is not associated with breast cancer recurrence in the first 7 years of clinical follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Bisulfite treatment
  • CpG Island
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Methylation specific PCR
  • Nested MSP
  • Sentinel node

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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