The biological complexity of colorectal cancer: Insights into biomarkers for early detection and personalized care

Marina De Rosa, Daniela Rega, Valeria Costabile, Francesca Duraturo, Antonello Niglio, Paola Izzo, Ugo Pace, Paolo Delrio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer has been ranked the third and second most prevalent of all cancers in men and women, respectively, and it represents the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths. In 2012, there were 1.4 million estimated cases of colorectal cancer worldwide, and 700,000 estimated deaths, which implies significant impact on public health, especially in economically-developed countries. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of tumors, although this has been accompanied by decreased mortality, due to more appropriate and available information, earlier diagnosis, and improvements in treatment. Colorectal cancers are characterized by great genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity, including tumor microenvironment and interactions between healthy and cancer cells. All of these traits confer a unique peculiarity to each tumor, which can thus be considered as an individual disease. Well conducted molecular and clinical characterization of each colorectal cancer is essential with a view to the implementation of precision oncology, and thus personalized care. This last aims at standardization of therapeutic plans chosen according to the genetic background of each specific neoplasm, to increase overall survival and reduce treatment side effects. Thus, prognostic and predictive molecular biomarkers assume a critical role in the characterization of colorectal cancer and in the determination of the most appropriate therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-886
Number of pages26
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • colorectal cancer epidemiology
  • colorectal cancer molecular heterogeneity
  • colorectal cancer tumorigenesis
  • predictive biomarkers
  • prognostic biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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