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Surg Oncol. 2000 Jul;9(1):5-11.

The use of molecular biology in diagnosis and prognosis of gastric cancer.

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Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Institut fuer Pathologie, Munich, Germany.


The investigation of molecular and genetic changes in gastric cancer has brought new insights into the pathogenesis of the disease. Knowledge of the genetic abnormalities and altered molecules could be used for differential diagnosis in case of an unknown primary tumor, allows their evaluation as prognostic factors, and could open novel avenues for more specific clinical interventions. Clinically relevant molecules whose expression or structure is altered include the plasminogen activator and its inhibitor plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1, the cell cycle regulator cyclin E, epidermal growth factor, the apoptosis inhibitor bcl-2, the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, and the multifunctional protein beta-Catenin. In addition, genetic instability is commonly seen. Gene amplification and protein overexpression of the growth factor receptors c-erbB2 and K-sam may be prognostic factors for intestinal- and diffuse-type gastric cancer, respectively. There has long been evidence for a genetic predisposition to gastric cancer by epidemiological studies and case reports. Very recently, germ line mutations of E-cadherin have been identified that are responsible for a dominantly inherited from of diffuse-type gastric cancer and could be used to identify individuals that are at high risk. The clinical implications of the recent findings for diagnosis, prognosis, therapy, and risk assessment are discussed.

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