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Mol Carcinog. 1997 Aug;19(4):273-9.

Analysis of genetic alterations in uterine leiomyomas and leiomyosarcomas by comparative genomic hybridization.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Uterine leiomyomas are the most prevalent tumor type in women of reproductive age and are the most common reason for hysterectomies. Although uterine leiomyomas are considered to be benign, they are a major public health concern for women. In contrast, leiomyosarcomas are rare but highly malignant uterine tumors. They may arise in uteri with preexisting leiomyomas and histologically sometimes resemble leiomyomas, thus causing controversy about whether leiomyosarcomas arise within leiomyomas. In this study, we used comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) to identify genetic alterations unique to each tumor type and alterations that are common between the two tumors. We analyzed 14 cases of uterine leiomyomas and eight cases of uterine leiomyosarcomas. Only two of the 14 leiomyomas exhibited genetic alterations, and those were restricted to gains on chromosomes 14 and 19 and losses on chromosomes 1 and 4. In addition, 68 leiomyomas were examined for loss of heterozygosity on chromosomes 1 and 4, and only three tumors exhibited any losses. In contrast, all eight leiomyosarcomas showed gains and losses of DNA by CGH, and in many cases multiple changes were observed. The most commonly observed genetic aberration, occurring in five tumors, was gains on both arms of chromosome 1, suggesting that this chromosome contains loci involved in the development of leiomyosarcoma. Our results do not provide evidence for the progression from benign leiomyoma to malignant leiomyosarcoma. Moreover, the large number of random chromosomal alterations in the leiomyosarcomas suggests that increased genetic instability plays a role in the formation of these tumors.

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