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Flow cytometric analysis of DNA content in Hürthle cell adenomas and carcinomas of the thyroid.

Paraffin-embedded surgical biopsy material from 17 Hürthle cell tumors of the thyroid was examined for DNA content by flow cytometry to assess the diagnostic and prognostic utility of ploidy determinations in these rare tumors. Both adenomas (11 cases) and carcinomas (6 cases) were studied. As a control for methods, ten randomly selected normal autopsy thyroids were analyzed, all of which demonstrated normal diploid DNA content. Among the Hürthle cell tumors, however, aneuploid peaks were present in six adenomas (55%) and in four carcinomas (67%). Similarly, polyploid DNA peaks in the absence of other aneuploid peaks were present in two adenomas and two carcinomas (18% and 33%, respectively). These findings demonstrate the limited value of aneuploidy or polyploidy as diagnostic features for malignancy in Hürthle cell tumors of the thyroid. As for prognosis, there does not appear to be any unfavorable prognostic significance for abnormal DNA content in histologically benign Hürthle cell tumors treated by surgical excision because no metastases or recurrences occurred in this group at a mean disease-free follow-up of 50 +/- 19 months for six aneuploid lesions and 19 +/- 7 months for two polyploid adenomas. Preliminary data suggest that aneuploidy may, however, have an important prognostic value for histologically defined Hürthle cell carcinomas, because the only patient to die from the tumor in this series had an aneuploid Hürthle carcinoma. Thus, the authors' data indicate that the diagnostic utility of DNA content in Hürthle cell tumors is extremely limited and that there does not appear to be any negative prognostic significance for aneuploidy in histologically defined Hürthle cell adenomas.

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