Objective: To compare the frequency and spectrum of p53 gene mutations in adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and cardia and to compare clinical and pathologic features in patients with p53 mutant and nonmutant cancers.
Summary background data: The p53 gene is commonly mutated in human cancers, and a p53 mutation is reported to be present in more than 50% of esophageal adenocarcinomas. Although many studies have investigated the frequency of p53 protein overexpression in adenocarcinomas of the esophagus or esophagogastric junction, few studies have assessed the frequency and clinical significance of p53 mutations in these tumors. In particular, the prognostic importance of p53 mutation is uncertain. Adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and cardia share many epidemiologic and pathologic features, but it is controversial whether they represent the same tumor. A comparison of the frequency and spectrum of mutations in adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and cardia would test whether these tumors are also similar at the molecular level.
Methods: DNA was isolated from microdissected paraffin-embedded tumor tissues of patients who underwent esophagogastrectomy for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus (n = 19), cardia (esophagogastric junction, n = 12), or subcardia (n = 6). Exons 5 to 8 of the p53 gene were analyzed for the presence of mutations using the polymerase chain reaction with single-strand conformation polymorphism and DNA sequencing of bands showing abnormal mobility. The presence of mutation was confirmed by selective hybridization of a mutant-specific oligonucleotide to DNA isolated from the tumor.
Results: p53 mutations were identified in 18 of 37 (48.6%) tumors. Patients with p53 mutant tumors were significantly younger and had a significantly poorer prognosis. There was a similar prevalence of p53 mutations in adenocarcinomas of the esophagus (53%) and cardia (58%). In contrast, mutations were relatively uncommon in subcardia adenocarcinomas (one mutant tumor [17%]). The types of mutations found in the esophageal and the cardia cancers were also similar.
Conclusions: Adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and cardia have a similar frequency and spectrum of p53 gene mutations, suggesting that these tumors have a common pathogenesis. Patients with mutations are younger, have signs of more advanced disease, and have a poorer prognosis than patients without mutations.