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EGFR signaling in colorectal cancer: a clinical perspective

Authors Saletti P, Molinari F, De Dosso S, Frattini M

Received 4 September 2014

Accepted for publication 17 October 2014

Published 19 January 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 21—38


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Eileen O'Reilly

Piercarlo Saletti,1 Francesca Molinari,2 Sara De Dosso,1 Milo Frattini2

1Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, Bellinzona, 2Laboratory of Molecular Pathology, Institute of Pathology, Locarno, Switzerland

Abstract: Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a formidable health burden worldwide, with up to 50% of patients developing metastases during the course of their disease. This group of CRC patients, characterized by the worst prognosis, has been extensively investigated to improve their life expectancy. Main efforts, focused on the epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR), which plays a pivotal role in CRC pathogenesis, have led to the development and introduction in clinical practice of specific targeted therapies (ie, monoclonal antibodies). Subsequently, the scientific community has tried to identify molecular predictors of the efficacy of such therapies. However, it has become clear that EGFR alterations occurring in CRC are difficult to investigate, and therefore their predictive role is unclear. In contrast, the clinical role of two downstream members (KRAS and NRAS) has been clearly demonstrated. Currently, EGFR-targeted therapies can be administered only to patients with wild-type KRAS and NRAS genes. Our review addresses the medical management of metastatic CRC. Specifically, we describe in detail the molecular biology of metastatic CRC, focusing on the EGFR signaling pathway, and we discuss the role of current and emerging related biomarkers and therapies in this field. We also summarize the clinical evidence regarding anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies and examine potential future perspectives.

Keywords: colorectal cancer, EGFR, gene mutations, cetuximab, panitumumab

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