Multiple genetic alterations were investigated in colorectal cancer, including changes in DNA content, mutations in ras oncogenes, and deletions involving chromosomes 5, 17, and 18. A non-random association of deletions and mitotic abnormalities by site was seen, with both types of alterations occurring significantly more frequently in distal tumours. In contrast, the frequency of c-Ki-ras mutations did not differ between proximal and distal cancers. In addition, deletions were significantly associated with each other and with change in DNA content. The data provide strong support for the hypothesis that proximal and distal colon carcinoma might differ in the genetic mechanisms in their initiation and/or progression.
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