Chromosomal damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes of newly diagnosed cancer patients and healthy controls
Background: The majority of human cancers arise from cells unable to maintain genomic stability. Recent prospective studies indicated that enhanced chromosomal aberrations (CAs) frequencies are predictive of gastrointestinal and lung cancers. However, studies on incident cancer patients are lacking; thus, we investigated chromosomal damage in newly diagnosed cancer patients and healthy individuals. Methods: We analyzed chromosomal damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes in a group of 300 incident cancer patients (with different malignancies) in comparison with 300 healthy controls. Results and Conclusions: The frequencies of aberrant cells (ACs) and CAs were significantly higher in patients (2.38 ± 1.56 and 2.53 ± 1.69, respectively) as compared with controls (1.81 ± 1.31 and 1.94 ± 1.47, respectively, P < 0.01). The percentual difference in chromatid-type aberrations (CTAs) between patients and controls was moderately significant (1.37 ± 1.20 and 1.11 ± 0.99, respectively, P ≤ 0.05), whereas the difference in chromosome-type aberrations (CSAs) was stronger (1.16 ± 1.24 versus 0.83 ± 1.12, P < 0.01). Using binomial logistic regression, the estimated odds ratios and 95% confidence interval for ACs were 1.33 (1.18–1.49), P < 0.01; for CAs, 1.27 (1.14–1.41), P < 0.01; for CTA 1.24 (1.07–1.44), P < 0.01 and for CSA, 1.27 (1.10–1.47), P < 0.01. By stratifying patients for distinct neoplasia, markers of chromosomal damage were significantly enhanced in patients with breast, prostate and head/neck cancers, whereas no effect was recorded in patients affected by gastrointestinal cancers. The present study shows for the first time evidence of increased chromosomal damage in lymphocytes of incident cancer patients compared with healthy controls. The effects were observed in different cancer types but as the number of patients was relatively small, further studies are warranted.