AbstractWe have examined the composition of the essential fatty acids in the plasma phospholipid fractions of 98 patients with histologically proven bladder cancer. These patients were attending hospital for regular follow-up by check cystoscopy. Patients were divided into two groups, depending on the cystoscopic findings, of either active (tumour recurrence seen) or inactive (no evidence of tumour recurrence) disease. Compared with a normal population, the plasma levels of most of the fatty acids, including arachidonic acid, were significantly lower in the 98 cancer patients (P less than 0.001, t-test). We were unable, however, to demonstrate any significant differences (Mann- Whitney U-test) between the active and inactive disease groups. Plasma levels of the essential fatty acids are abnormal in patients with bladder cancer; they do not help, however, to distinguish those patients with active disease from those with inactive disease. This may arise because the deficit in essential fatty acids we have demonstrated is a predisposing factor for the development of bladder cancer rather than a metabolic consequence of the tumour. Further studies are needed to establish the possible clinical role of measurement of essential fatty acids in patients with bladder carcinoma.
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