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Expression of the alpha-methylacyl-CoA racemase (AMACR) gene has recently been demonstrated by several groups to be markedly elevated in prostate cancer cells with little expression in benign prostate tissue and has been suggested as a molecular marker of prostate cancer on needle biopsy. There is scant data, however, as to the sensitivity and specificity of AMACR in the diagnosis of small foci of cancer on needle biopsy. A total of 209 needle biopsies of the prostate with small foci (<5% of a core) of prostatic adenocarcinoma were identified. A total of 175 cases were received in consultation by one of the authors (140 from a single institution and 35 from different outside institutions) and 34 cases were from our hospital file. Immunohistochemistry for high molecular weight cytokeratin and p63 was performed in all cases to confirm the diagnosis of cancer. Only AMACR staining that was significantly stronger than that of background benign glands was considered positive; 88% of all cases of prostate cancer were positive for AMACR. The sensitivity varied among the different groups: 100% for the in house cases, 87.1% for the cases from a single institution, and 80% for cases from different outside institutions. The mean percentage of stained glands in positive cases was 95.9%, with 150 (71.8%) cases showing 100% of the glands positive and 25 (12.0%) cases showing no staining. Because negative staining for basal cell markers, especially in a small focus of atypical glands, is not necessarily diagnostic of prostate cancer, positive staining for AMACR can increase the level of confidence in establishing a definitive malignant diagnosis. However, the sensitivity of AMACR staining may vary in specimens from different pathology laboratories, possibly related to differences in fixation and processing. It is important to optimize the staining technique for each laboratory and recognize that some small cancers on needle biopsy may be AMACR negative.