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Cancer Res. 1998 Dec 15;58(24):5835-41.

Clonal and chronological genetic analysis of multifocal cancers of the bladder and upper urinary tract.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan.


Recent molecular genetic studies have suggested that multifocal urothelial cancers are derived from an identical progenitor cell. However, the clonal origin of multifocal urothelial cancers of a low-grade superficial type has not been fully defined. Using microsatellite markers, we examined genetic alterations at 20 loci on eight chromosomal arms (2q, 4p, 4q, 8p, 9p, 9q, 11p, and 17p) in 87 metachronous and/or synchronous multifocal urothelial cancers, which included 84 low-grade superficial papillary tumors from 29 patients. Judging from the patterns of loss of heterozygosity, microsatellite shifts, and the subchromosomal partial deletion, multifocal tumors in at least 20 (80%) of the 25 evaluable patients were considered to be derived from a single progenitor cell, although the possibility remained that multifocal tumors in a small subset of patients might develop from distinct progenitor cells due to field cancerization. In 13 of the 20 patients, a chronological genetic analysis was available: genetic heterogeneity was detected in 3 (23%) patients, and an apparent accumulated pattern of genetic alterations was detected in only 1 (8%) patient. In the 20 patients with multifocal tumors of an identical clonal origin, discordant microsatellite alterations were observed, with significantly lower frequencies on chromosome 9 compared to those on the other chromosomes tested. The results indicate that most multifocal low-grade superficial urothelial cancers are genetically stable despite their incidence of frequent recurrence, and genetic divergence occurs in a subset of patients. This heterotopic spread and genetic divergence may occur long before the clinical manifestation of multiplicity from a single transformed cell. These data support the previous view that heterotopic spread of transformed progenitor cells and genetic divergence occur after chromosome 9 alterations in most of low-grade superficial urothelial cancers.

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