Strategic Combinations to Prevent and Overcome Resistance to Targeted Therapies in Oncology

Ozge Gumusay, Pietro Paolo Vitiello, Chiara Wabl, Ryan B Corcoran, Alberto Bardelli, Hope S Rugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent advances in the understanding of underlying molecular signaling mechanisms of cancer susceptibility and progression have led to an increase in the use of targeted therapies for cancer treatment. Despite improvements in survival with new treatment options in oncology, resistance to therapy is a major obstacle to the long-term effectiveness of targeted agents in metastatic cancer treatment, culminating in insensitivity to treatment and tumor outgrowth. Adaptive resistance can play an important role in primary and upfront resistance to therapy as well as in secondary or acquired resistance. By focusing on colorectal and breast tumors, we discuss how therapeutic combinations based on specific drivers of tumor biology can be used to overcome resistance. We present how monitoring tumor dynamics over time may allow early adaptation of treatment. Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women worldwide, and the majority of these cancers are sensitive to endocrine therapy (ET) blocking the production of or response to estrogen. However, primary and acquired resistance limits efficacy. Recent combinations of agents targeted to pathways that drive tumor growth resistance with ET have resulted in remarkable improvements in disease response and control, improving survival in some settings. In this review, we summarize adaptive resistance mechanisms, approaches to combination strategies, and dynamic tumor monitoring to improve efficacy and overcome resistance. We provide examples of combination therapy to enhance the efficacy of targeted therapies in breast and colorectal tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e292-e308
JournalAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology educational book / ASCO. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Meeting
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm/drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology/methods
  • Neoplasms/drug therapy


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