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Genet Test. 1999;3(2):237-42.

HER-2/neu oncogene amplification in cervical cancer studied by fluorescent in situ hybridization.

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Lifespan Academic Medical Center Cytogenetics Laboratory, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, USA.


Oncogene amplification, such as HER-2/neu (C-erbB-2), is a manifestation of genetic instability often associated with the genesis and progression of cancer, including cervical cancer. Oncogene overexpression is traditionally studied using immunohistochemistry. We previously reported studies of oncogene amplification in breast cancer using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), where the data support the hypothesis that HER-2/neu is a prognostic marker of poor outcome. To explore further the possible significance of HER-2/neu oncogene amplification in cervical cancer, we conducted a pilot study of 24 cervical cancer cases. The HER-2/neu FISH probe (Vysis, Inc., Downers Grove, IL) was used to measure gene amplification, with a chromosome 17 centromeric probe as an internal control. Out of 24 cases studied, 23 were informative. Of the 23 informative cases, 2 (8.7%) were found to be amplified. The rest (21 out of 23 or 91.3%) were nonamplified. Both amplified cases were invasive adenocarcinoma. Although the sample size of this pilot study may be somewhat small, the data obtained so far clearly demonstrated that detection of oncogene amplification in cervical cancer is not only feasible but is very sensitive, and suggest that further exploration using a larger sample size may be warranted.

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