Evolution of DNA ploidy during squamous cell carcinogenesis in the esophagus
Image and flow cytometry was used to study the nuclear DNA content (ploidy) during the squamous cell carcinogenesis in the esophagus. The present retrospective study comprised 26 surgical specimens of squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) in patients who underwent surgery alone at the Department of Surgery in CHUV Hospital in Lausanne, between January 1992 and December 1999. We analyzed 53 healthy tissues, 43 tumors, and six lymph node metastases. Diploid DNA histogram patterns were observed in all non-pathologic tissues analyzed, either distant or proximal to the lesion. Aneuploidy was observed in 30 (70%) of 43 lesions; 20 (62.5%) of 32 early squamous-cell carcinomas; and 10 (91%) of 11 advanced carcinomas. In patients with various tumor stages or with multicentric synchronous or metachronous tumors, DNA content was not different among different tumor stages. Four of six lymph node metastases had the same DNA content as the primary tumor. In four patients, discordance between image and flow cytometry analysis was observed for malignant lesions only. Ploidy status was not statistically associated with the differentiation of the tumor, but it was associated with the stage of tumor (P < 0.001). These findings suggest that early malignant changes in the esophagus are already associated with alteration in DNA content, and aneuploidy tends to correlate with progression to invasive SCC. This cell kinetic information could help clinicians in selecting the optimal treatment for the individual patient.