In contrast to invasive colorectal carcinomas that develop in typical exophytic adenoma-carcinoma sequences, some invasive cancers may evolve from flat mucosal dysplastic lesions. Despite their relatively small size, these flat colorectal lesions are often associated with high-grade dysplasia and may show an aggressive clinical course. To delineate the genetic pathways in the clonal evolution of these tumors, multiple foci were microdissected from 13 cases and the allelic deletions of 15 chromosomal arms were analysed. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) was detected most frequently on 17p (77%), followed by 18q (69%), and 5q (54%). In five cases with concomitant low-grade adenomas, only one case showed LOH in low-grade adenoma foci. In high-grade dysplasia with/without submucosal invasion, early and homogeneous LOH of one to several chromosomal arms was detected. Overall, homogeneous and thus early LOH were most frequently detected on 17p (seven of 10 cases with 17p LOH), followed by 3p (two of three cases with 3p LOH), and 5q (four of seven cases with 5q LOH). In addition to homogeneous LOH, the LOH patterns observed in different portions of dysplasias and invasive cancers in individual cases identified several different genetic patterns of tumour progression, either with linear or branching (divergent) trees. Positive immunostaining for p53 was detected in 10 of the 13 cases; of these, five cases were concomitant with 17p LOH in all of the microdissected foci, four cases were concomitant with 17p LOH in a majority of foci and, one case showed retention of 17p. Except for the flat configuration and early 17p LOH, genetic heterogeneity in the flat high-grade dysplastic foci was found to be similar to genetic chaos in the late dysplastic and preinvasive stages of exophytic adenoma. These findings suggest a potentially aggressive course for these neoplasms.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.