AIM--To assess the prognostic value of age and stage at diagnosis, site of primary tumour, cell ploidy and N-myc copy number in children with neuroblastoma. METHODS--Flow cytometry was used to determine the cellular DNA content of paraffin wax embedded archival material from 69 cases of neuroblastoma and was successful in 52. RESULTS--The age, stage, and survival distribution of the sampled cases was not significantly different from that in a larger population based series. There were seven diploid ("non-aneuploid") and 45 aneuploid (including two tetraploid and four triploid) tumours. The 10 year survival was significantly better for cases of aneuploid rather than diploid tumours (p < 0.05). An important new finding was that 10 year survival was also significantly better for tumours with a low percentage of cells in S phase (p < 0.03). CONCLUSION--The percentage of cells in S phase, a measure of the proliferative activity of the tumour, correlated with prognosis in neuroblastoma. This should be measured with other biological features of the disease, such as N-myc copy number, when prognostic indicators are being assessed.
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