Epidermal growth factor receptor as a therapeutic target for the treatment of colorectal cancer
Colorectal carcinoma is the third most common malignancy worldwide. The use of currently available therapies results in only a modest impact on overall survival of patients with advanced-stage disease. New approaches for the treatment of colorectal cancer are urgently needed. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is frequently dysregulated in colorectal carcinoma, and overexpression of the receptor confers a poor prognosis. Targeting the EGFR has become a rational approach for the treatment of colorectal carcinoma. Several strategies to inhibit the EGFR and its downstream signaling pathways are currently being investigated in preclinical and clinical studies, including monoclonal antibodies directed against the extracellular domain of the receptor and small-molecule inhibitors of its tyrosine kinase activity. Some of these drugs have already been tested in colorectal cancer and have shown preliminary evidence of antitumor efficacy. Important issues to elucidate in the future include the definition of the biologic context in which these drugs are more likely to be effective and the integration of the different agents in current therapeutic strategies for colorectal cancer. This article will provide a comprehensive review of the current available preclinical and clinical data on EGFR-targeted therapies in colorectal cancer.