OBJECTIVES: Telomerase is activated in various stages of oncogenesis. For cervical cancer, telomerase is already active in precancerous lesions. In our study we focused on the analysis of the amplification patterns of telomerase genes TERT and TERC.
DESIGN AND SETTING: We included 39 patients in our study between January 2012 and April 2013. Each patient underwent a classical gynaecological examination and a colposcopy. During the colposcopic examination we collected material for a Pap smear, HPV DNA test (HC2) and LBC (LiquiPrep™), and performed punch biopsies for histopathological evaluation. Residual cytologic sample was hybridized with the FISH probe and telomerase genes were analysed.
RESULTS: The amplification of the TERT gene showed us a very similar amplification pattern as TERC and gradually corresponded with both histolopathological (p<0.001) and cytopathological findings (p<0.001). The specificity and sensitivity of TERC gene amplification for the detection of CIN2+ lesions (cut off value 2.3) was 88.2% and 95.5% respectively (PPV 91.3%, NPV 93.8%).
CONCLUSIONS: We identified increasing amplification pattern of telomerase genes in cervical lesions. According to our results telomerase genes could help in the future to determine the malignant potential of cervical lesions and could be tested together with cytology and HPV DNA in order to obtain the highest combined sensitivity and specificity for CIN2+ lesion detection.