Oral cancer develops and progresses by accumulation of genetic alterations. The interrelationship between these alterations and their sequence of occurrence in oral cancers has not been thoroughly understood. In the present study, we applied oncogenetic tree models to comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) data of 97 primary oral cancers to identify pathways of progression. CGH revealed the most frequent gains on chromosomes 8q (72.4%) and 9q (41.2%) and frequent losses on 3p (49.5%) and 8p (47.5%). Both mixture and distance-based tree models suggested multiple progression pathways and identified +8q as an early event. The mixture model suggested two independent pathways namely a major pathway with -8p and a less frequent pathway with +9q. The distance-based tree identified three progression pathways, one characterized by -8p, another by -3p and the third by alterations +11q and +7p. Differences were observed in cytogenetic pathways of node-positive and node-negative oral cancers. Node-positive cancers were characterized by more non-random aberrations (n = 11) and progressed via -8p or -3p. On the other hand, node-negative cancers involved fewer non-random alterations (n = 6) and progressed along -3p. In summary, the tree models for oral cancers provided novel information about the interactions between genetic alterations and predicted their probable order of occurrence.
Copyright 2008 UICC.