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J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Dec;113(6):1065-9.

Molecular cytogenetic analysis of Spitz nevi shows clear differences to melanoma.

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  • 1Cancer Genetics Program, Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco, 94143-0808, USA.


Spitz nevus is a benign neoplasm of melanocytes that can be difficult or impossible to distinguish from melanoma by clinical and histopathologic examination. We studied genomic DNA from 17 Spitz nevi by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). Thirteen lesions showed no chromosomal aberrations, three cases had a gain involving the entire p-arm of chromosome 11, and one case showed a gain of chromosome 7q21-qter. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on lesional tissue with a probe for the p-arm of chromosome 11 showed 6-10 p-arm signals per nucleus in those cases with a CGH-detected gain of chromosome 11p. One case with a normal CGH profile also showed increased copy number of 11p by FISH. Thus, the majority of Spitz nevi have a normal chromosomal complement at the level of CGH resolution; however some may contain gains, with 11p apparently being the most frequently involved location. These findings differ significantly from the previously reported changes in primary cutaneous melanoma, which show frequent deletions of chromosomes 9p (82%), 10q (63%), 6q (28%), and 8p (22%), as well as gains of chromosomes 7 (50%), 8 (34%), 6p (28%), 1q (25%) by CGH analysis. These clear differences in the location and frequencies of chromosomal aberrations in Spitz nevi and primary cutaneous melanomas could represent a basis for developing adjunctive techniques for refining accuracy in the difficult differential diagnosis of spitzoid melanocytic neoplasms.

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