Although the incidence of cancer of the esophagus is low in the United States, the prognosis of patients with this malignancy is poor, especially when metastases exist. More research concerning the biological characteristics of this tumor is necessary to permit more effective treatment and to determine the etiology. We successfully studied cytogenetically 14 short- and long-term cell lines derived from esophageal carcinoma to determine whether these tumors have nonrandom, unique chromosomal abnormalities. Our results showed that the tumor cells had chromosome numbers clustering around a modal number that varied according to the cell line. The presence in the primary explant of extensive numerical and structural abnormalities involving every chromosome including the sex chromosomes indicate that these abnormalities occur early in the malignant cells. The chromosomes most frequently involved in the structural abnormalities were 1, 9, and 11, each occurring in 13 of the 14 lines, and of three found in 12 of the 14 lines. The major aberrations resulted in deletions of portions of these chromosomes. The most frequent breakpoints for these abnormalities occurred at 3p14, 11q11q12, and 9q11q12 as well as in the centromeric regions of all the acrocentric chromosomes. Another unusual chromosomal marker found in three lines (HCE-1, HCE-3, and HCE-5) was a homogeneously staining region (HSR) that occurred as an extension on 11q12.
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