The correlation of the standard 5 probe FISH assay with melanocytic tumors of uncertain malignant potential Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Bone Marrow
  • Dendritic Cells
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
  • Monocytes
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders
  • Skin Diseases


  • © 2016 Elsevier Inc.Background FISH has recently emerged as a technique to better assess the malignant potential of histologically ambiguous melanocytic lesions. However, the usefulness of FISH has not been conclusively established. The purpose of this study was to further explore the diagnostic value of FISH in distinguishing the borderline melanocytic tumor (BMT) from melanoma. Method 73 cases with BMT were analyzed retrospectively from a dermatopathology database between 2010–2015. FISH studies were conducted in each case using probes targeting 5 loci including CCND1 on 11q13, RREB1 on 6p25, MYB on 6q23, CDKN2A on 9p21, and CEP 6 control probe for chromosome 6. Results The study was composed of 50 females and 23 males with an age range of 1–73 and a mean age of 35 years. Of the 6 cases in the superficial atypical Spitz tumor (AST) category, 2 had indeterminate results due to polyploidy. In the conventional atypical Spitz tumor cases, FISH was positive in 3 of 15 cases. Of the 27 cases in the borderline nevoid tumor (BNM) category, 3 showed positive FISH and 3 were equivocal due to the possibility of polyploidy. 3 of 13 cases of the borderline tumor of deep penetrating nevus variant (B-DPN) were positive for FISH. Neither of the 2 pigmented epithelioid melanocytoma (PEM) cases had positive FISH result. Of the 4 cases in the superficial atypical dermoepidermal nevomelanocytic proliferation group, only 1 met the FISH diagnostic criteria for melanoma. None of the 6 borderline tumors with overlapping features met FISH criteria diagnostic of melanoma. Clinical follow up was available on 55 patients. None of the patients had recurrence nor died of the disease. Lymph node biopsy was performed on five patients without evidence of metastasis. Conclusion Despite the benefits of FISH, it is limited by the fact that melanomas are not genetically identical whereby certain genetic abnormalities are only seen in specific subtypes. Additionally, FISH only targets specific chromosomes resulting in limitations in sensitivity and specificity. Although FISH has proven to be highly sensitive and specific in distinguishing unequivocally benign from malignant lesions, in cases of histopathological ambiguity, these parameters cannot be assessed with great confidence because the histopathological diagnosis (gold standard) is not without uncertainty. The 4-probe set (excluding 9p21) consistently showed chromosomal aberrations throughout all groups, but only 10 of the 73 total cases (13%) met the diagnostic criteria for melanoma. Moreover, it would be wise to establish new cytogenetic reference values that incorporate these borderline lesions in an effort to better assess the possibility of malignant behavior and or define a cytogenetic profile supportive of its categorization as an indeterminate proliferation. Polyploidy is another inherent limitation, which leads to false positives due to the absolute signal counts incorrectly reflecting relative imbalances in the tumor genome.

publication date

  • June 2017



  • Academic Article



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2016.11.001

PubMed ID

  • 28648937

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 30

end page

  • 36


  • 28