Copy Number Variations and Clinical Outcome in Atypical Spitz Tumors
Atypical Spitz tumors (ASTs) are rare spitzoid neoplasms of uncertain biological behavior. Our study was designed to characterize genetic abnormalities that may help to differentiate ASTs from melanoma or Spitz nevi. We examined copy number variation in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples using an Agilent 44k array comparative genomic hybridization platform. Sixteen patients with AST (8 with positive sentinel lymph node biopsy, 1 with distant metastasis), 8 patients with Spitz nevi, and 3 patients with melanoma (2 spitzoid, 1 superficial spreading) were evaluated. Chromosomal aberrations were found in 7 of 16 ASTs, 1 with fatal outcome, 2 spitzoid melanomas, and 1 conventional melanoma. We found no difference in chromosomal instability between AST patients with positive and negative sentinel lymph node biopsies. Our patient with widely metastatic AST lacked the most frequent aberrations in melanoma involving chromosomes 6 and 11q that are loci targeted by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) probes developed to distinguish malignant melanoma from benign melanocytic lesions. The vast majority of chromosomal abnormalities observed in ASTs are not commonly found in melanomas, suggesting that AST may be a distinct clinical entity and raising additional questions regarding their malignant potential, prognosis, and clinical management. The current FISH probes failed to detect 1 spitzoid melanoma, 1 fatal metastatic AST case, and the other chromosomally aberrant ASTs in our series, but detected 1 spitzoid melanoma and 1 conventional melanoma. Thus, a comprehensive, genome-wide approach to chromosomal abnormalities offered greater sensitivity and specificity than current FISH probes in identifying spitzoid lesions of uncertain malignant potential in this series.
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