Objective: Detection of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow (BM) of patients with breast cancer is associated with poor outcomes. Recent studies demonstrated that DTCs may serve as a prognostic factor in ovarian cancer. The aim of this 3-center study was to evaluate the impact of BM status on survival in a large cohort of patients with ovarian cancer.
Materials and Methods: Four hundred ninety-five patients with primary ovarian cancer were included in this 3-center prospective study. Bone marrow aspirates were collected intraoperatively from the iliac crest. Disseminated tumor cells were identified by antibody staining and by cytomorphology. Clinical outcome was correlated with the presence of DTCs.
Results: Disseminated tumor cells were detected in 27% of all BM aspirates. The number of cytokeratin-positive cells ranged from 1 to 42 per 2 × 106 mononuclear cells. Disseminated tumor cell status did correlate with histologic subtype but not with any of the other established clinicopathologic factors. The overall survival was significantly shorter among DTC-positive patients compared to DTC-negative patients (51 months; 95% confidence interval, 37–65 months vs 33 months; 95% confidence interval, 23–43 months; P = 0.023). In the multivariate analysis, BM status, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage, nodal status, resection status, and age were independent predictors of reduced overall survival, whereas only BM status, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage, and resection status independently predicted progression-free survival.
Conclusions: Tumor cell dissemination into the BM is a common phenomenon in ovarian cancer. Disseminated tumor cell detection has the potential to become an important biomarker for prognostication and disease monitoring in patients with ovarian cancer.