Defining the transition from benign to malignant tissue is fundamental to improving early diagnosis of cancer1. Here we use a systematic approach to study spatial genome integrity in situ and describe previously unidentified clonal relationships. We used spatially resolved transcriptomics2 to infer spatial copy number variations in >120,000 regions across multiple organs, in benign and malignant tissues. We demonstrate that genome-wide copy number variation reveals distinct clonal patterns within tumours and in nearby benign tissue using an organ-wide approach focused on the prostate. Our results suggest a model for how genomic instability arises in histologically benign tissue that may represent early events in cancer evolution. We highlight the power of capturing the molecular and spatial continuums in a tissue context and challenge the rationale for treatment paradigms, including focal therapy.
© 2022. The Author(s).