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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 23, Issue 1, Pages 21-28

Intratumoral Variations in DNA Ploidy and S-Phase Fraction in Human Breast Cancer

Conny Arnerlöv,1 Stefan O. Emdin,1 Stefan Cajander,2 Nils‐Olof Bengtsson,3 Björn Tavelin,3 and Göran Roos2

1Department of General Surgery, Umeå University Hospital, S‐901 85 Umeå, Sweden
2Department of Pathology, Umeå University Hospital, S‐901 85 Umeå, Sweden
3Department of Oncology, Umeå University Hospital, S‐901 85 Umeå, Sweden

Received 14 November 2000; Accepted 18 May 2001

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To study intratumoral DNA ploidy heterogeneity and S‐phase fraction (SPF) variability, we prospectively collected five different samples from 48 breast carcinomas and each sample was analysed separately by flow cytometry. Aneuploidy rate was 89.6% after analysis of four or five samples. DNA ploidy heterogeneity, i.e., different samples classified as either DNA euploid or DNA aneuploid in the same tumor was seen in 17%, and DNA index heterogeneity, i.e., tumor populations with different DNA indices (DIs) seen in different samples was 44%. A statistical model defining SPF heterogeneity is proposed. SPF heterogeneity as defined by us was 71%, and as expected the SPF heterogeneity rate increased significantly with increasing number of analysed samples. Four or more samples are needed to detect the most deviant (highest) SPF values. An unrecognized intratumor heterogeneity of DNA ploidy and SPF may partly explain the conflicting results reported in the literature on the above prognostic indicators.