Objective: To determine whether p53 expression is a marker of tumour progression in superficially invasive (pT1) transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.
Patients and methods: The immunohistochemical status of the p53 protein in 28 pT1 primary bladder cancers was determined on frozen tissue and archival paraffin block sections using three primary antibodies (CM-1, PAB1801 and D07). The findings were compared with the patients' progress. All the patients, except for those who died during the course of the study, were followed up by check cystoscopy for a minimum of 2 years.
Results: Immediately adjacent frozen sections stained identically in 10 of 16 cases for CM-1 and PAB1801. For paraffin sections, identical staining patterns were seen for PAB1801 and D07 in 21 of 26 sections. However, inter- and intra-tumour staining for p53 was very variable, even with the same antibody. The heterogeneity of p53 positive cell distribution in the tumours indicates potential for significant sampling errors if random sections are chosen as representative of p53 status.
Conclusion: The p53 status of the primary tumours did not relate to patient outcome. The results obtained do not support the use of immunohistological p53 expression as a discriminating prognostic indicator in pT1 transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.