3% of human cancers are renal cell carcinomas (RCC). The most common chromosome abnormality found in this tumor is loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on the short arm of chromosome 3, which suggests that there must be one or more tumor suppressor genes between 3p14 and 3p21 near the VHL gene which play a relevant role in renal cancer development. DNA from normal and tumor tissue from 40 patients at various stages of RCC was analyzed for LOH at three microsatellites mapped to 3p (3p14.1–14.3; 3p21.2–21.3 and 3p25) by polymerase chain reaction). 42.5% of the tumors studied showed LOH on at least one locus. 30% showed LOH on only one locus; 5% on two loci and 7.5% on the three loci tested. LOH occurred only on nonpapillary tumors (p = 0.03). Interestingly, all the tumors with LOH on 3p21 were ≥25 mm (p = 0.04; relative risk 1.76, confidence interval: 1.3–2.3).

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