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Cancer Res. 1994 Feb 1;54(3):784-8.

Two molecular pathways to transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.

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  • 1Kenneth Norris Jr. Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033.


Noninvasive transitional cell carcinomas of the bladder can have two distinct morphologies suggesting they contain different genetic alterations. Papillary transitional cell carcinomas (T(a) tumors) are often multifocal and only occasionally progress, whereas flat tumors (carcinomas in situ, CIS), frequently progress to invasive disease. We examined 216 bladder tumors of various stages and histopathologies for two genetic alterations previously described to be of importance in bladder tumorigenesis. Loss of heterozygosity of chromosome 9 was observed in 24 of 70 (34%) T(a) tumors but was present in only 3 of 24 (12%) CIS and dysplasia lesions (P = 0.04). In contrast, only 1 of 36 (3%) T(a) tumors contained a p53 gene mutation compared to 15 of 23 (65%) CIS and dysplasias (P < 0.001), a frequency comparable to that observed in muscle invasive tumors (25 of 49; 51%). The presence of p53 mutations in CIS and dysplasia could explain their propensities to progress since these mutations are known to destabilize the genome. Analysis of several tumor pairs involving a CIS and an invasive cancer provided evidence that the chromosome 9 alteration may in some cases be involved in the progression of CIS to more invasive tumors, in addition to its role in the initiation of T(a) tumors. However, the CIS and secondary tumor were found to contain different genetic alterations in some patients suggesting divergent progression pathways. Bladder carcinogenesis may therefore proceed through two distinct genetic alteration pathways responsible for generating superficial tumors with differing morphologies and pathologies.

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