In this retrospective pilot study, the feasibility of the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) as an imaging target for lymph node (LN) metastatic disease of urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC) of the bladder was investigated. LN metastases and LNs without metastases of patients who underwent pelvic lymph node dissection because of muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) were used. Primary tumors of the same patients were used from cystectomy specimen, transurethral resections, and biopsies. A pathologist, blinded to clinical data, scored EpCAM immunoreactivity. This method determines a total immunostaining score, which is the product of a proportion score and an intensity score. EpCAM expression was observed in 19/20 (95%) LNs with UCC metastases and in 11/12 (92%) of the primary tumors. EpCAM expression was absent in 14/14 (100%) LNs without metastases. Median EpCAM expression (TIS) in LN metastases was 5 (IQR 2.0–8.0) and in the primary tumors 6 (IQR 2.3–11.0). Based on the absence of staining in LNs without metastases, EpCAM show high tumor distinctiveness. EpCAM seems to be a feasible imaging target in LN metastases of UCC of the bladder. Pre- and perioperative visualization of these metastases will improve disease staging and improve the complete resection of LN metastases in MIBC.
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