Correlation of numerical chromosome 11 and 17 imbalance with metastasis of primary breast cancer to lymph nodes

C. S. Herrington, R. D. Leek, J. O'D. McGee

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    Abnormalities of chromosomes 11 and 17 have been widely reported in invasive carcinoma of the breast. Interphase cytogenetics using pericentromeric repeat probes allows the evaluation of numerical chromosomal aberrations in tumour cell populations. We have developed a method for interphase cytogenetics on fine needle aspirates taken from breast tumours and have applied it to the analysis of chromosomes 11 and 17 in 49 cases of invasive adenocarcinoma. Frequency distributions of signal number were generated for each case and no correlation was found between modal signal number and tumour size at presentation, nodal status or tumour differentiation. In 14 cases, two copies of each of chromosomes 11 and 17 were present, and in 14, the number of chromosomes 11 and 17 were equal but abnormal. In 14 cases, the chromosome 11 number was greater than chromosome 17 and in 7 cases, the chromosome 17 number was greater than chromosome 11. Chromosome inequality correlated with the presence of lymph node metastases or disseminated disease at presentation and the absence of in situ carcinoma. There was no relationship with the presence of vascular invasion. These data suggest that numerical chromosome 11 and 17 imbalance may indicate the ability of breast cancers to metastasize rather than invade vessels. The pattern of numerical chromosome abnormality described may define a subgroup of tumours with a greater tendency for metastasis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)353-359
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Pathology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 1995


    • chromosome 11
    • chromosome 17
    • interphase cytogenetics
    • Breast cancer

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