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Eur Urol. 2002 Jun;41(6):668-76.

DNA alterations in body fluids as molecular tumor markers for urological malignancies.

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Department of Urology, Benjamin Franklin Medical School, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



DNA-based tumor markers are characterized by unique specificity rendering them an attractive target for molecular diagnosis of cancer in body fluids like blood serum/plasma and urine. Both cell-free tumor DNA circulating in plasma/serum and cellular tumor DNA are detectable by minimally invasive measures.


Three main detection methods, microsatellite analysis, mutation analysis in genomic or mitochondrial DNA and gene promoter hypermethylation analysis are applied. Detection of gene promoter hypermethylation by methylation-specific PCR enables the best methodical sensitivity requiring a ratio of tumor DNA within normal DNA of less than 1:1000.


Tumor DNA derived from renal cell carcinoma, bladder cancer or prostate cancer is detectable in considerably more than 50% of plasma/serum samples and more than 70% of urine samples from these patients. Because the targeted DNA alterations are absent or very rare in controls, the specificity of DNA-based tumor detection methods reaches almost 100%. Although the methodology currently is experimental, automatization will make it easier and less expensive. This review is focused on the potential clinical value of DNA-based analysis of body fluids for the initial diagnosis and the follow-up of urologic cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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