Phagocytic activity of monocytes in patients with breast cancer at different clinical stages
© BioMed Central Ltd 2001
Received: 10 May 2001
Published: 31 May 2001
The investigation was designed to evaluate numerical and functional properties of peripheral blood monocytes (PBMo) in patients with breast cancer at different clinical stages. Monocyte phagocytosis test was performed in 19 patients with benign breast tumor, 29 patients with breast cancer and 10 healthy subjects. Cancer patients were divided into three groups on the basis of the clinical stage of disease: groupA, patients with localized disease; groupB, patients with regional lymph node metastasis; and groupC, patients with distant metastasis. Patients with advanced disease (groupC) showed an increase in neutrophils, but no differences in the total count of leukocytes and absolute number of lymphocytes as compared with healthy individuals, patients with benign breast tumor or patients with lower stage. However, the mean number of monocytes decreased in patients with benign disease and further decreased in cancer patients, reaching the significantly lowest value in patients with distant metastasis. Phagocytic activity of PBMo was found to be significantly lower in patients with benign tumor, and it became further reduced in the cancer group, related to the clinical stage. Thus, we noted a sixfold decrease in the capacity of phagocytosis, fourfold decrease in percentage of phagocytosis and twofold decrease in phagocytic index in patients with advanced stage (groupC). The alterations in number and function of PBMo in patients with benign and malignant breast tumor were observed in close association with clinical stage of disease, and thus they could be considered as indicators of tumor progression. However, further studies are required to determine whether monocyte dysfunction could provide additional prognostic information in the case of breast cancer diagnosis and therapy.