Purpose: Flow cytometry and RT-PCR can detect occult Ewing sarcoma cells in the blood and bone marrow. These techniques were used to evaluate the prognostic significance of micrometastatic disease in Ewing sarcoma. Experimental Design: Newly diagnosed patients with Ewing sarcoma were enrolled on two prospective multicenter studies. In the flow cytometry cohort, patients were defined as "positive" for bone marrow micrometastatic disease if their CD99+/ CD45- values were above the upper limit in 22 control patients. In the PCR cohort, RT-PCR on blood or bone marrow samples classified the patients as "positive" or "negative" for EWSR1/FLI1 translocations. The association between micrometastatic disease burden with clinical features and outcome was assessed. Coexpression of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) on detected tumor cells was performed in a subset of flow cytometry samples. Results: The median total bone marrow CD99? CD45 ô percent was 0.0012% (range 0%-1.10%) inthe flow cytometry cohort, with 14 of 109 (12.8%) of Ewing sarcoma patients defined as "positive." In the PCR cohort, 19.6% (44/225) patients were "positive" for any EWSR1/FLI1 translocation in blood or bone marrow. There were no differences in baseline clinical features or event-free or overall survival between patients classified as "positive" versus "negative" by either method. CD99+CD45- cells had significantly higher IGF-1R expression compared with CD45+ hematopoietic cells (mean geometric mean fluorescence intensity 982.7 vs. 190.9; P < 0.001). Conclusions: The detection of micrometastatic disease at initial diagnosis by flow cytometry or RT-PCR is not associated with outcome in newly diagnosed patients with Ewing sarcoma. Flow cytometry provides a tool to characterize occult micrometastatic tumor cells for proteins of interest.
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