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Vol. 61, No. 4, 2001
Issue release date: November 2001
Oncology 2001;61:299–305

STn and Prognosis in Breast Cancer

Leivonen M. · Nordling S. · Lundin J. · von Boguslawski K. · Haglund C.
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Sialyl-Tn (STn) is a carbohydrate antigen formed by the premature 2–6 sialylation of N-acetylgalactosamine. It belongs to a family of antigens widely expressed in carcinomas but only to a limited degree in normal tissue. The expression of STn has been associated with prognosis in different tumors. In this immunohistochemical study of 218 patients with invasive stage I–III breast cancer, STn was expressed in 39% of the tumors. High expression of STn correlated with estrogen and progesterone hormone receptor negativity (p = 0.0002 and p = 0.0003, respectively), and marginally with large tumor size (p = 0.04), high S-phase fraction (p = 0.04) and aneuploidy (p = 0.04), but not significantly with node status, grade or age. The patients had a median follow-up of 17 years. The breast-cancer-specific survival rate of patients with STn-negative cancers was higher than that of patients with cancers that expressed STn during the first 5 years of the follow-up (p = 0.013), but the difference between the groups decreased during the long-term follow-up. STn expression seems to be a marker for short-term, but not for long-term breast cancer outcome prediction.

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