KRAS mutation testing in metastatic colorectal cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct 7;18(37):5171-80. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i37.5171.


The KRAS oncogene is mutated in approximately 35%-45% of colorectal cancers, and KRAS mutational status testing has been highlighted in recent years. The most frequent mutations in this gene, point substitutions in codons 12 and 13, were validated as negative predictors of response to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibodies. Therefore, determining the KRAS mutational status of tumor samples has become an essential tool for managing patients with colorectal cancers. Currently, a variety of detection methods have been established to analyze the mutation status in the key regions of the KRAS gene; however, several challenges remain related to standardized and uniform testing, including the selection of tumor samples, tumor sample processing and optimal testing methods. Moreover, new testing strategies, in combination with the mutation analysis of BRAF, PIK3CA and loss of PTEN proposed by many researchers and pathologists, should be promoted. In addition, we recommend that microsatellite instability, a prognostic factor, be added to the abovementioned concomitant analysis. This review provides an overview of KRAS biology and the recent advances in KRAS mutation testing. This review also addresses other aspects of status testing for determining the appropriate treatment and offers insight into the potential drawbacks of mutational testing.

Keywords: Biomarker; Epidermal growth factor receptor; KRAS; Metastatic colorectal cancer; Testing status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, ras*
  • Humans
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction


  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors