Invasive breast cancer shows a wide range of morphological differentiation, associated with differences in prognosis, but as yet, the underlying genetic mechanisms cannot be accounted for. In order to establish a model of the possible progression from the different subtypes of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive breast cancer, 77 selected cases of invasive breast cancer representing distinct morphological subtypes were investigated by means of comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). There was a high degree of genetic homology between tubular and tubulo-lobular carcinoma and well-differentiated DCIS, and between ductal invasive carcinoma G3 and poorly differentiated DCIS. Highly differentiated invasive breast cancers were characterized by a loss of 16q and a low average number of aberrations per case. In high-grade tumours, losses of this chromosomal region were seen with a much lower frequency in cases with evidence of an aneuploid tumour status. These data demonstrate the close genetic similarity of well-, intermediately, and poorly differentiated DCIS and distinct morphological types of invasive breast carcinoma, providing further evidence that DCIS is a direct precursor lesion of invasive breast cancer and that various evolutionary genetic pathways exist.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.