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Mol Pathol. 2000 Feb;53(1):24-30.

p53 and K-ras gene mutations in carcinoma of the rectum among Finnish women.

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North Savo Regional Environment Centre, Kuopio, Finland.



The aim of this study was to identify p53 and K-ras gene mutations in carcinoma of the rectum among Finnish women. Mutation patterns might give clues to aetiological factors when comparisons are made with other human tumours.


Of 134 women with carcinoma of the rectum, paraffin wax embedded specimens of the tumour tissue were obtained from 118 patients. Genomic DNA was extracted, and exons 4-8 of the p53 gene and codons 12/13 and 61 of the K-ras gene were amplified, and analysed for mutations by single strand conformation polymorphism and direct sequencing. The production of p53 and K-ras proteins was studied by immunohistochemistry.


The overall crude frequency for mutations in the p53 gene was 35% but the true frequency appears to be higher (up to 56%). In the K-ras gene, the mutation frequency (15%) was significantly lower than that reported for colon cancer. In the p53 gene, the mutation frequency increased significantly with patient age. In a high proportion of patients (14%) the rectal tumours contained small subclones of tumour cells that displayed extremely rare mutations at codons 110 and 232 of the p53 gene. Hot spot codon 175 mutations were significantly less common in rectal cancer than in cancer of the colon.


Rectal cancer among Finnish women has characteristics in the mutations of the p53 and K-ras genes that are uncommon in other human tumours, including cancer of the colon. A biological explanation of these findings is not clear at present, but might be associated with an unidentified genetic factor in Finland.

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