Danielle Desautels1, Craig Harlos1, Piotr Czaykowski2
1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9, Canada.
2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba; Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Cancer Care Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9, Canada.
Until recently, systemic therapy for gastrointestinal malignancies was restricted to relatively noncancer-specific cytotoxic chemotherapy. Over the last 15 years targeted therapies have become available, most notably bevacizumab in the case of advanced colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, there are no predictive biomarkers to guide the use of this agent. In this review article, we describe the advent of “Precision Medicine” (in part, the use of patient-specific molecular markers to inform treatment) in gastrointestinal cancers: The use of monoclonal antibodies targeting epidermal growth factor receptor in advanced colorectal cancer, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-neu in advanced esophagogastric cancer. In both instances, biomarkers help in selecting appropriate patients for such treatment.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer, esophagogastric cancer, precision therapy, targeted therapy