Molecular genetics of bladder cancer: targets for diagnosis and therapy

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jun;25(2):145-60.


Transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder is a common tumor. While most patients presenting superficial disease can be expected to do well following treatment, still many patients will return to our office with muscle invasive and metastatic disease. Survival in advanced bladder cancer is less than 50%. Tumors of similar histologic grade and stage have variable behavior, suggesting that genetic alterations must be present to explain the diverse behavior of bladder cancer. It is hoped that through the study of the subtle genetic alterations in bladder cancer, important prognostic and therapeutic targets can be exploited. Many new diagnostic tests and gene therapy approaches rely on the identification and targeting of these unique genetic alterations. A review of literature published on the molecular genetics of bladder cancer from 1970 to the present was conducted. A variety of molecular genetic alterations have been identified in bladder cancer. Oncogenes (H-ras, erbB-2, EGFR, MDM2, C-MYC, CCND1), tumor suppressor genes (p53, Rb, p21, p27/KIP1, p16, PTEN, STK15, FHIT, FEZ1/LZTS1, bc10), telomerase, and methylation have all been studied in bladder cancer. Several have proven to be potentially useful clinical targets in the prognosis and therapy of bladder cancer such as staining for p53 and gene therapy strategies such as p53 and fez1. Clinical trials targeting HER2/neu and the EGFR pathways are underway. The UroVysion bladder cancer assay relies on FISH to detect genetic alterations in this disease. Continuing identification of the molecular genetic alterations in bladder cancer will enhance future diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to bladder cancer. Capitalizing on these alterations will allow early detection, providing important prognostic information and unique targets for gene therapy and other therapeutic approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Biology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor