Comparative genomic hybridization was performed on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and surrounding mucosa to determine whether common chromosomal aberrations could be detected that would predispose an individual to developing a second primary tumor.
Biopsy specimens were taken from 19 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, 3 samples from each person: 1 specimen from the tumor site and 1 each from 1 and 5 cm from the macroscopic tumor margin. Samples were snap frozen in liquid nitrogen. A portion of each distant sample and tissue taken from immediately adjacent to the site of the tumor specimen were sectioned and stained with hematoxylin-eosin, either to search by light microscopy for tumor cells or signs of dysplasia in the distant samples, or to determine whether the tumor specimen had substantial nontumor cell content. Tissue adjacent to the tumor biopsy site was used because the biopsy specimens were relatively small. Comparative genomic hybridization was performed on all samples.
Nineteen patients with newly diagnosed carcinomas of the head and neck.
The tumor biopsy specimens showed no substantial nontumor cell content, and the distant specimens were all histologically normal. The tumors showed multiple mutations: mean (SD) number of deletions, 5.4 (4.3); amplifications, 5.2 (4.6). Deletion of chromosome 3p was seen in 13 of 19 cases and was associated with amplification of 3q in 10 cases. No mutations were seen in the distant biopsy specimens.
Frequently occurring chromosomal aberrations were seen in the tumor cells, suggesting a key role for these mutations in tumor development. Screening histologically normal upper aerodigestive tract mucosa with comparative genomic hybridization does not provide information on early genetic events that predispose a patient to developing a second primary tumor.