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BackgroundExtension of prostate cancer beyond the primary site by local invasion or nodal metastasis is associated with poor prognosis. Despite significant research on tumour evolution in prostate cancer metastasis, the emergence and evolution of cancer clones at this early stage of expansion and spread are poorly understood. We aimed to delineate the routes of evolution and cancer spread within the prostate and to seminal vesicles and lymph nodes, linking these to histological features that are used in diagnostic risk stratification.MethodsWe performed whole-genome sequencing on 42 prostate cancer samples from the prostate, seminal vesicles and lymph nodes of five treatment-naive patients with locally advanced disease. We spatially mapped the clonal composition of cancer across the prostate and the routes of spread of cancer cells within the prostate and to seminal vesicles and lymph nodes in each individual by analysing a total of > 19,000 copy number corrected single nucleotide variants.ResultsIn each patient, we identified sample locations corresponding to the earliest part of the malignancy. In patient 10, we mapped the spread of cancer from the apex of the prostate to the seminal vesicles and identified specific genomic changes associated with the transformation of adenocarcinoma to amphicrine morphology during this spread. Furthermore, we show that the lymph node metastases in this patient arose from specific cancer clones found at the base of the prostate and the seminal vesicles. In patient 15, we observed increased mutational burden, altered mutational signatures and histological changes associated with whole genome duplication. In all patients in whom histological heterogeneity was observed (4/5), we found that the distinct morphologies were located on separate branches of their respective evolutionary trees.ConclusionsOur results link histological transformation with specific genomic alterations and phylogenetic branching. These findings have implications for diagnosis and risk stratification, in addition to providing a rationale for further studies to characterise the genetic changes causally linked to morphological transformation. Our study demonstrates the value of integrating multi-region sequencing with histopathological data to understand tumour evolution and identify mechanisms of prostate cancer spread.

Original publication




Journal article


Genome medicine

Publication Date





Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Prostate, Seminal Vesicles, Humans, Prostatic Neoplasms, Lymphatic Metastasis, Phylogeny, Male