The role of signal transduction in cancer treatment and drug resistance

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2002 Sep;28(6):679-84. doi: 10.1053/ejso.2002.1303.


Drug resistance in the treatment of cancer still remains a major clinical challenge, in part due to an insufficient understanding of the pathways by which these drugs interact with the mechanisms underlying cellular behaviour and cancer pathogenesis. Signal transduction involves cell differentiation, proliferation and cell death with alterations in these mechanisms being involved in the pathogenesis of cancer. It has been postulated that such pathways could be linked to anti-cancer drug resistance. Recently, novel approaches to overcome anti-cancer drug resistance through manipulation of signal transduction pathways, have been introduced in clinical trials. In this article we present a review of the current understanding in the field of signal transduction and the existing evidence for its role in drug resistance. We also discuss its clinical relevance with regard to overcoming drug resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / physiology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents