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Feasibility of analyzing DNA copy number variation in breast cancer tumor specimens from 1950 to 2010: how old is too old?

The purpose of the study was to assess the feasibility of quantifying long-term trends in breast tumor DNA copy number variation (CNV) profiles. We evaluated CNV profiles in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor specimens from 30 randomly selected Kaiser Permanente Northern California health plan women members diagnosed with breast cancer from 1950 to 2010. Assays were conducted for five cases per decade who had available tumor blocks and pathology reports. As compared to the tumors from the 1970s to 2000s, the older tumors dating back to the 1950s and 1960s were much more likely to (1) fail quality control, and (2) have fewer CNV events (average 23 and 31 vs. 58 to 69), fewer CNV genes (average 5.1 and 3.7k vs. 8.1 to 10.3k), shorter CNV length (average 2,440 and 3,300k vs. 5,740 to 9,280k), fewer high frequency Del genes (37 and 25% vs. 54 to 76%), and fewer high frequency high_Amp genes (20% vs. 56 to 73%). On average, assay interpretation took an extra 60 min/specimen for cases from the 1960s versus 20 min/specimen for the most recent tumors. Assays conducted in the mid-2010s for CNVs may be feasible for FFPE tumor specimens dating back to the 1980s, but less feasible for older specimens.

Authors: Krieger N; Nabavi S; Waterman PD; Achacoso NS; Acton L; Schnitt SJ; Habel LA

Cancer Causes Control. 2018 03;29(3):305-314. Epub 2018-02-09.

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