Sections (5 microns thick) from 101 primary adenocarcinomas (including ovarian, colorectal, gastric, breast, oesophageal, prostatic, pancreatic, endometrial and gall bladder) were incubated wtih anticolon specific antigen (CSA) and anticolon ovarian tumour antigen (COTA) antibodies using the peroxidase antiperoxidase technique with positive and negative controls. Anti-CSA positivity was seen in 19 of 20 colonic adenocarcinomas, but it was also seen in a large number of the other tumours. While anti-COTA staining was positive in 16 of 20 colonic adenocarcinomas and 20 of 30 ovarian adenocarcinomas, it was also positive in a large number of the tumours. Anti-CSA and anti-COTA are not adequately specific in the identification of a colonic or ovarian origin of an adenocarcinoma and cannot reliably be applied to the identification of a metastatic adenocarcinoma of unknown primary site.
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