Telomere shortening in breast cancer correlates with the pathological features of tumor progression

Oncol Rep. 2015 Aug;34(2):627-32. doi: 10.3892/or.2015.4063. Epub 2015 Jun 15.


Telomeres are involved in the maintenance of genomic stability. Telomere alteration has been observed in most human cancer types, and is known to be a feature of malignancy. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the telomere length of breast cancer cells correlates with TNM stage and several pathological features. We investigated a total of 44 breast cancers, including 17 scirrhous, 15 papillotubular and 12 solid-tubular carcinomas. Telomere lengths were determined by tissue quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization (Q-FISH), and compared according to the TNM stage, histological tumor size, lymph node metastases, vascular invasion and immunohistochemical status (ER, PR, HER2 status and Ki67 labeling index). In all histological types, telomeres of cancer cells were significantly shorter than those of normal epithelial cells. Mean telomere length was significantly less in patients with TNM stage III, and in those with large tumors, lymph node metastases and vascular invasion. Our results suggest that the telomere length of cancer cells is strongly correlated with the degree of cancer progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Telomere Shortening*