The Study of DNA Methylation in Urological Cancer: Present and Future
Andrés G, Ashour N, Sánchez-Chapado M, Ropero S, Angulo JC. Actas Urol Esp. 2013 Jun;37(6):368-375. doi: 10.1016/j.acuro.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 May 1.

[Article in English, Spanish]


Servicio de Urología, Hospital Universitario de Getafe, Fundación para la Investigación Biomédica del Hospital Universitario de Getafe, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Getafe, Madrid, España.



We have synthesized the principal advances in the field of the study of epigenetics and specifically DNA methylation regarding the diagnosis of urological neoplasms.


Review of the literature (PubMed, MEDLINE y COCHRANE) on the study of DNA methylation in urological neoplasms (prostate cancer, bladder cancer, renal cancer and testicular cancer), considering all the studies published up to January 2013.


It was possible to determine the state of methylation of many genes in our tumor samples. When these were compared with healthy tissue samples, it was possible to define the specific aberrant methylation patterns for each type of tumor. The study and definition of specific abnormal methylation patterns of each type of tumor is a tool having potential utility for diagnosis, evaluation, prediction of prognosis and treatment of the different forms of genitourinary cancer. The analysis of gene methylation in urine after micturition or post-prostatic massage urine, semen, in the wash plasma or fluid from prostatic biopsies may allow early detection of bladder, prostate, renal and testicular cancer. In each one of the neoplasms, an epigenetic signature that may be detected in the DNA has been identified, obtained from very scarce or not at all invasive specimens, with potential in the diagnosis and evaluation of prognosis. Validation of these studies will confirm the accuracy, effectiveness and reproducibility of the results available up to now. Criteria have still not been developed that determine if a gene panel provides sufficient information in the health care practice to guide an unequivocal diagnosis or therapeutic conduct. More studies are needed to compare sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value of the test in each case. Multicenter studies analyzing the real reproducibility of these results in a clinical setting also do not exist.


The study of aberrant DNA methylation in biological specimens of patients has an enormous potential for the early diagnosis and screening of genitourinary neoplasms. A larger number of studies is needed to be able to define the series of genes that would mean unequivocal signatures of malignancy. This methodology also has potential when defining prognostic groups and potential of response to different therapies.