Detection of telomerase activity in cells obtained from peritoneal washings of patients with ovarian cancer.

CC Pao, PhD

Department of Biochemistry, Chang Gung University School of Medicine, Kweishan, Taoyuan Taiwan

AIM: To detect telomerase activity in peritoneal ascites and to assess whether it can be used as an assistant tool for the early detection of ovarian cancer. METHODS: Telomerase activities were measured by TRAP assay in 47 patients with ovarian malignancies and 50 patients with benign uterine leiomyomas. RESULTS: All 26 peritoneal washing cytology positive cases were telomerase positive. Of the 21 peritoneal washing cytology negative cases, 3 were telomerase positive. When these 3 were reevaluated for peritoneal cytology, malignant ascites was identified in 1. All telomerase negative cases were negative for peritoneal washing cytology. The sensitivity and specificity of peritoneal cytology and telomerase testing in correlation with true malignant cells were 96 (26/27) and 100% (20/20) versus 100 (27/27) and 90% (18/20), respectively. The false negative rate of peritoneal cytology was 4.7% (1/21). The false positive rate of the telomerase test in relation to malignant ascites was 6.9% (2/29). CONCLUSIONS: Results reveal a high sensitivity and specificity of both telomerase testing and conventional cytology in peritoneal fluids. Our data suggest that the telomerase test in peritoneal fluids can be used as an adjuvant to cytopathological methods in the diagnosis of malignant peritoneal ascites, particularly in cases of negative cytology. In these cases, a review of peritoneal histocytology is advised.

KEY WORDS: telomerase, peritoneal ascites, cytology, ovarian carcinoma.

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Paper presented at the International Symposium on Predictive Oncology and Intervention Strategies; Paris, France; February 9 - 12, 2002; in the section on Diagnostic Markers.