The prognostic application of cytokeratin typing of nonsmall cell lung carcinoma: A retrospective study

Razia Cohen, Alexander Guber, Annette Siegal, Israel Bruderman, Monica Huszar, Alon Yellin, Zvi Marom*, Benjamin Geiger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. In a previous study, the authors used a variety of anticytokeratin monoclonal antibodies to show that a large proportion of lung tumors cytologically diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma contain cells expressing simple epithelial cytokeratins, suggesting that these tumors have their origin in adenocarcinoma. These findings raised the possibility that cytokeratin (CK) typing might have a diagnostic capacity not attainable by standard histopathology. The aim of the current study was to assess the value of CK typing for this purpose by determining the correlation between the diagnosis of lung tumors based on CK typing and the survival rate of the patients. METHODS. Paraffin embedded tissue sections of 66 nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) specimens were examined. These included 18 adenocarcinomas, 32 squamous cell carcinomas and 16 undifferentiated carcinomas, all diagnosed surgically and histopathologically, and further classified as either Stage I or II. CK typing was performed using the streptavidin-biotin-peroxidase method employing the following anti-CK monoclonal antibodies: Ks.B.17 (which reacts with CK 18), A3-3 (which reacts with CK 13), and E5-9 (which reacts with CK 10). RESULTS. Comparison between the 5-year survival rates (5 yrs) of patients with different NSCLC indicated that all types of Stage II tumors had a much poorer prognosis than Stage I tumors. Differences found in the 5 yrs among patients with different types of stage I tumors were not statistically significant (adenocarcinomas 33% 5 yrs; squamous cell carcinomas, 59% 5 yrs, undifferentiated carcinomas, 36% 5 yrs, all diagnosed by conventional histopathology). Similarly, no significant differences were noted in 5 yrs between patients with tumors stained positively or negatively with monoclonal antibodies A3-3 or E5-9 (anti-CK 13 and anti-CK 10, respectively). In contrast, highly significant differences (P = 0.002) were found in the 5 yrs between patients with Stage I tumors positively or negatively stained with monoclonal antibody Ks.B.17 (23% vs. 75% 5 yrs, respectively) regardless of the histologic types of tumors. Especially informative was a combination of immunohistochemical and histologic diagnoses, with best survival rates (87% 5 yrs) in Ks.B.17 negative tumors histologically diagnosed as Stage I squamous cell carcinomas and worst survival rates (14% 5 yrs) in Ks.B.17 positive tumors diagnosed as adenocarcinomas. CONCLUSIONS. The current study showed that CK 18 typing of lung tumors can provide a more accurate diagnosis and therefore facilitate the planning of more suitable therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-473
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • cytokeratin typing
  • nonsmall cell lung carcinomas
  • prognostic markers
  • survival rate


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