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To clarify field cancerization in the stomach by genetic alterations, we studied 83 cases of intestinal-type gastric cancer (GC) and paired intestinal metaplasia (IM) distant from GC and 39 cases of chronic gastritis with IM (CG-IM) for genetic instability (GIN). Microsatellite instability (MSI) and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) were evaluated at 5 microsatellite loci.The incidence of GIN was 21% (8/39) in CG-IM, 48% (40/83) in GC-IM, and 65% (54/83) in GC and showed a significant difference among these 3 categories. By tumor location, MSI showed the highest incidence in GC and GC-IM with the tumor located in the upper third of the stomach. GIN in GC and GC-IM significantly increased with the progression of tumor invasion from mucosal to advanced cancer. GIN, especially LOH, was more frequently detected in cases with vs without lymphatic or vascular invasion and lymph node involvement in GC and GC-IM.The GIN of GC and GC-IM was significantly similar in relation to clinicopathologic features. Biologic detection of GIN in IM may be a surrogate marker for GC risk and for clinical evaluation of malignant potential. The condition is consistent with the hypothesis of field cancerization in the stomach.