Background & aims: Ras genes are the most frequently detected oncogenes in human malignancies. Data regarding the frequency of c-K-ras mutations in esophageal, gastric, and small bowel tumors are limited and controversial.
Methods: DNA was extracted from 262 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections of gastrointestinal samples and tumors, including Barrett's esophagus, esophageal squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas, and small and large bowel adenomas and adenocarcinomas. The presence of c-K-ras codon 12 mutations was determined using a nonradioactive polymerase chain reaction-based restriction fragment length polymorphism assay.
Results: c-K-ras mutations were detected in 1 of 39 (2%) patients with Barrett's esophagus, 1 of 21 (5%) adenocarcinomas, 0 of 27 squamous cell carcinomas of the esophagus, and 1 of 32 (3%) gastric adenocarcinomas. It was also present in 8 of 20 (40%) and 10 of 28 (36%) small bowel adenomas and adenocarcinomas, respectively. Similar numbers were observed in 10 of 25 (40%) large bowel adenomas and 11 of 30 adenocarcinomas (37%). Mutations were not associated with age, gender, histology, grade, stage, location, or mortality.
Conclusions: The frequency of codon 12 c-K-ras mutations in small and large bowel tumors is approximately 10-fold higher than that of tumors in the upper gastrointestinal tract.