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Cytometry. 1997 Sep 1;29(1):1-27.

Common patterns of genetic evolution in human solid tumors.

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Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Department of Human Oncology, Allegheny Campus, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212, USA.


Human solid tumors develop multiple genetic evolutionary abnormalities as they evolve. Studies that have focused primarily on early colorectal cancer have suggested that genetic instability is a prominent feature of preinvasive disease. At least two separate mechanisms for the generation of genetic instability have been identified. The first, which involves widespread microsatellite instability in near-diploid cells, affects less than one-fifth of colon cancers. The second form of genetic instability is characterized by the development of p53 gene abnormalities that result in gross aneuploidy and multiple structural chromosomal changes. p53/aneuploidy affects most colon cancers, breast cancers, and many other solid tumors. This genetic evolutionary change commonly occurs at the interface between severe dysplasia and invasive disease. Specific post-aneuploid sequences of genetic changes that are relevant to tumor progression often involve the accumulation of multiple gain-of-function abnormalities in individual cells. The co-occurrence of Her-2/neu overexpression and EGF receptor overexpression in the same aneuploid cells defines an adeno/squamous genetic evolutionary sequence that is common to ductal breast cancers, non-small cell lung cancers, and other solid tumors. Later steps in this sequence include ras and c-myc overexpression. The neuroendocrine genetic evolutionary sequence is a separate branch of the p53/aneuploidy sequence with distinctive features that include loss of Rb and raf1 overexpression. Her-2/neu overexpression is not characteristic of this sequence; c-myc amplification/overexpression is common to both p53-associated sequences. The neuroendocrine sequence is found in small cell carcinoma of the lung and in minor proportions of other solid tumors, including breast cancer. Multiparameter cell-based methods are especially well suited for elucidation in human solid tumors of the genetic evolutionary sequences that could provide a rational scientific basis for determining prognosis and for optimizing therapy in individual cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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