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Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan;6(1):15-31. doi: 10.1177/1756283X12453636.

Molecular targeted therapies in advanced gastric cancer: does tumor histology matter?

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1
Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong.

Abstract

It is increasingly recognized that gastric cancer is a heterogeneous disease which may be divided into subgroups based on histological, anatomical, epidemiological and molecular classifications. Distinct molecular drivers and tumor biology, and thus different treatment targets and predictive biomarkers, may be implicated in each subtype. However, there is little evidence in the literature regarding the correlation among these different classifications, and particularly the molecular aberrations present in each subtype. In this review, we approach advanced gastric cancer (AGC) by presenting aberrant molecular pathways and their potential therapeutic targets in gastric cancer according to histological and anatomical classification, dividing gastric cancer into proximal nondiffuse, distal nondiffuse and diffuse disease. Several pathways are involved predominantly, although not exclusively, in different subtypes. This may help to explain the disappointing results of many published AGC trials in which study populations were heterogeneous regardless of clinicopathological characteristics of the primary tumor. Histological and anatomical classification may provide insights into tumor biology and facilitate selection of an enriched patient population for targeted agents in future studies and in the clinic. However, some molecular pathways implicated in gastric cancer have not been studied in correlation with histological or anatomical subtypes. Further studies are necessary to confirm the suggestion that such classification may predict tumor biology and facilitate selection of an enriched patient population for targeted agents in future studies and in the clinic.

KEYWORDS:

Advanced gastric cancer; angiogenic pathway; biomarker; epidermal growth factor pathway; targeted therapy

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