The conversion from a carcinomatous component to a sarcomatous one in spindle cell carcinoma (SPCC) of the upper aerodigestive tract is thought to occur via a series of molecular alterations; however the detailed mechanism is still unknown. We examined mutations at the H-ras and p53 genes in 16 SPCCs of upper aerodigestive tracts using PCR-RFLP, PCR-SSCP and direct sequencing analysis. The two distinct components, sarcomatous and carcinomatous components in SPCC, were analyzed independently. p53 mutations were detected in both components of SPCC (50.0%, 8/16), and those in the sarcomatous component were completely in accordance with those in the carcinomatous one. In contrast, H-ras mutations were detected only in the sarcomatous component (12.5%, 2/16), and not in the carcinomatous one (0%, 0/16). There was a statistically significant difference in prognosis between the patients with the H-ras mutation (n=2) and those without (n=14); the former had poorer prognosis (P=0.0049). Our results seem to suggest that the H-ras mutation is a relatively uncommon event in SPCC; however, the presence of H-ras mutations may be associated with a more malignant potential in SPCC, while actually occurring during the sarcomatous change itself.
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