To examine the role of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) during tumor development and/or progression, we looked for correlations between metastasis of breast cancer to a regional lymph node(s) and LOH of chromosomal arms 11p, 13q, 16q, 17p, and 17q, where frequent losses in primary tumors have been detected. No correlation between lymph node metastasis and LOH of chromosomes 13q, 16q, or 17q was observed. However, tumors showing LOH of chromosomes 11p (x2 = 10.82, P < 0.01) and 17p (x2 = 6.78, P < 0.01) revealed a significantly higher incidence of metastasis to a regional lymph node(s) than tumors without LOH on these chromosomal arms. Furthermore, only four of 30 (13%) patients with tumors that retained both 11p and 17p had metastasis to a regional lymph node(s), compared with 24 of 32 (75%) patients with tumors that had lost both 11p and 17p. Analysis of LOH with markers on chromosomes 11p and 17p in a large number of tumors indicated that the peritelomeric region of each of these chromosomal arms contains a tumor suppressor gene that may be associated with tumor progression, particularly metastasis to a regional lymph node(s).

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The work was supported in part by a grant-in-aid for cancer research from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture of Japan.

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