Aims: Little information is available about stage- or site-specific chromosomal aberrations in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We tried to identify whether different patterns of chromosomal gain or loss in squamous cell carcinomas were associated with different stages or head and neck sites.
Methods and results: We investigated isolated interphase cells from paraffin sections of 5 3 squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck region by fluorescence in situ hybridization techniques. We used centromeric DNA probes for chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, X and Y. The majority of tumour samples showed aneuploidy for most chromosomes analysed. We were able to find differences in the chromosomal aberrations between the tumour sites and stages of the HNSCC investigated. The main numerical chromosomal abnormalities were an under-representation of chromosomes 3 (26%), 6 (17%), 9 (26%), 10 (23%) and 18 (32%). The Y chromosome was lost in 53% of male tumours. A loss of chromosomes 3 and 10 was detected mostly in laryngeal SCC (39% and 30%, respectively); the under-representation of chromosome 9 was predominantly seen in oropharyngeal SCC (54%) and a copy number decrease of chromosomes 18 was found in 57% of hypopharyngeal tumours.
Conclusion: Although the number of tumour samples investigated is rather low, our results suggest that the different tumour sites of HNSCC may also show different patterns of chromosomal changes.