Context: The detection of monosomy 3 in uveal melanomas has repeatedly been associated with adverse outcome. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy is being used to detect monosomy 3 in these tumors, based on the assumption that this chromosomal abnormality is distributed homogeneously throughout the tumor.
Objective: To study the distribution of monosomy 3 in primary uveal melanoma by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).
Design: We studied 50 enucleated eyes with uveal melanoma. In all 50 tumors we performed cytogenetic analysis and FISH using a DNA-specific probe for the centromere region of chromosome 3 on cultured tumor cells. In addition, the percentage of tumor cells with monosomy 3 was assessed by FISH on nuclei, isolated from paraffin-embedded tissue and compared to results of FISH on regular histology sections of the paraffin-embedded tissue.
Results: Combining karyotyping and FISH on cultured cells identified monosomy 3 in 19 (38%) of 50 tumors, whereas FISH on nuclei isolated from paraffin-embedded tissue showed 31 (62%) of 50 as having monosomy for chromosome 3. FISH analysis on paraffin sections showed tumor heterogeneity for copy number of chromosome 3 in at least 7 cases.
Conclusions: FISH analysis on paraffin sections shows that heterogeneity of monosomy of chromosome 3 is a frequent phenomenon in uveal melanoma. FISH on nuclei isolated from paraffin-embedded tissue identifies a higher frequency of monosomy 3 than the traditional combination of karyotyping and FISH on cultured uveal melanoma cells. The practice of assigning patients to risk categories based on fine-needle aspiration biopsy samples from primary uveal melanoma may be subject to error based on the heterogeneous distribution of monosomy 3 in these tumors.