Prognostic versus predictive value of biomarkers in oncology

Eur J Cancer. 2008 May;44(7):946-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2008.03.006. Epub 2008 Apr 7.


Numerous options are currently available for tumour typing. This has raised intense interest in the elucidation of prognostic and predictive markers. A prognostic biomarker provides information about the patients overall cancer outcome, regardless of therapy, whilst a predictive biomarker gives information about the effect of a therapeutic intervention. A predictive biomarker can be a target for therapy. Amongst the genes that have proven to be of relevance are well-known markers such as ER, PR and HER2/neu in breast cancer, BCR-ABL fusion protein in chronic myeloid leukaemia, c-KIT mutations in GIST tumours and EGFR1 mutations in NSCLC. Several reasons for the difficult elucidation of new markers will be addressed including the involvement of cellular pathways in tumour biology instead of single genes and interference in disease outcome as a result of anticancer therapies. Future perspectives for the development of prognostic and predictive markers will be given.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A