Purpose: Altered resident cellular genetic sequences (oncogenes) may result in malignant transformation, maintenance of tumor growth, and metastatic propensity. In this pilot study, we have elected to probe c-myc oncogene in evaluating specimens from human squamous cell carcinoma.
Materials and methods: Samples were obtained from 24 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. The ratio of tumor DNA values to that of control DNA was used to estimate the c-myc copy number.
Results: Data from material obtained from eight patients was analyzed to the point of c-myc copy number. Tumors varied from stage II through IV. Five originated in the oral cavity and three in the larynx. Analysis of primary tumors demonstrated that two of eight had increased c-myc copy numbers. Histologically positive neck specimens were encountered in five of the study patients. Three demonstrated elevated c-myc copy numbers, two of which had had increased copy number at the primary site.
Conclusion: This study confirms that c-myc amplification can be present in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. c-myc Amplification may also be present in neck metastasis. Oncogene amplification in neck metastasis may indicate an increased metastatic propensity for individual tumor cells demonstrating c-myc amplification.