Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths in the Western world, and despite the fact that metastases are usually the ultimate cause of deaths, the knowledge of the genetics of advanced stages of this disease is limited. In order to identify potential genetic abnormalities underlying the development of local and distant metastases in CRC patients, we have, by comparative genomic hybridization, compared the DNA copy number profiles of 10 primary carcinomas, 14 local recurrences, 7 peritoneal carcinomatoses, and 42 liver metastases from 61 CRC patients.
Results: The median number of aberrations among the primary carcinomas, local recurrences, carcinomatoses, and liver metastases was 10, 6, 13, and 14, respectively. Several genetic imbalances, such as gains of 7, 8q, 13q, and 20, and losses of 4q, 8p, 17p, and 18, were common in all groups. In contrast, gains of 5p and 12p were more common in the carcinomatoses than in other stages of the disease. With hierarchical cluster analysis, liver metastases could be divided into two main subgroups according to clusters of chromosome changes.
Conclusions: Each stage of CRC progression is characterized by a particular genetic profile, and both carcinomatoses and liver metastases are more genetically complex than local recurrences and primary carcinomas. This is the first genome profiling of local recurrences and carcinomatoses, and gains of 5p and 12p seem to be particularly important for the spread of the CRC cells within the peritoneal cavity.