Assessment of Tumor Cell Death After Percutaneous Ultrasound– Guided Radiofrequency Ablation of Breast Carcinoma: A Prospective Study

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Anna Guma
Teresa Soler
César G. Chappuis
Alazne Valdivielso
Anna Petit
Maria J. Pla
Catalina Falo
Sònia Pernas
Raúl Ortega
María Vicente
Laia Pérez
Eulalia Fernandez-Montoli
Miriam Campos
Fernando Burdio
Jordi Ponce
Nahum Calvo
Amparo Garcia-Tejedor


Early breast cancer, Radiofrequency ablation, Ultrasound, NADH-diaphorase staining, Cytokeratins


Background: Current trends in breast cancer treatment include the use of less aggressive surgeries to reduce morbidity, shorten hospital stays and improve cosmetic results. The aim of the study is to assess tumor cell viability after percutaneous ultrasound (US)-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for small breast cancer by a combination of staining techniques.
Methods: A prospective study was conducted at a single institution from 2013 to 2017. Twenty women with invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast measuring ≤ 20 mm were treated with US-guided RFA followed immediately by surgical resection. Tumor viability pre- and post-RFA was assessed with Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E), Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH), Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), Cytochrome c oxidase (COX), Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and Cytokeratin 18 and 19 (CK18/CK19) staining techniques. Outcomes and correlation with the different techniques were evaluated with principal component analysis Cronbach’s alpha.
Results: Oxidative enzymes in frozen sections showed loss of SDH and NADH in 13 of the 16 tumors (81%) and COX in 11 of the 13 tumors (84%). In paraffin-embedded tissues, CK18 was negative or markedly reduced in 98% and CK19 in 100% of the cases. Lack of evidence of cell death was seen in 3 cases where the maximum temperature achieved at the center of the tumor was ≤ 70ºC. The reliability and internal consistency between the different staining techniques was high (Cronbach’s alpha, 0.8), with concordance between the staining results of the oxidative enzymes and of CK18/CK19.
Conclusion: Loss of tumor viability in small breast tumors after US-guided percutaneous RFA could be assessed in our series with different staining methods. CK18 and CK19 could be used in paraffin-embedded tissues as surrogate markers of tumor cell viability after immediate RFA.


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