Molecular biomarkers in esophageal, gastric, and colorectal adenocarcinoma

Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Nov;140(2):133-47. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2013.06.005. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Cancers of the esophagus, stomach and colon contribute to a major health burden worldwide and over 20% of all cancer deaths. Biomarkers that should indicate pathogenic process and are measureable in an objective manner for these tumors are rare and not established in the clinical setting. In general biomarkers can be very useful for cancer management as they can improve clinical decision-making regarding diagnosis, surveillance, and therapy. Biomarkers can be different types of molecular entities (such as DNA, RNA or proteins), which can be detected, in different tissues or body fluids. However, more important is the type of biomarker itself, which allows diagnostic, prognostic or predictive analyses for different clinical problems. This review aims to systematically summarize the recent findings of genetic and epigenetic markers for gastrointestinal tumors within the last decade. While many biomarkers seem to be very promising, especially if used as panels, further development is urgently needed to address practical considerations of biomarkers in cancer treatment.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cancer; Colon; Esophagus; Stomach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Humans


  • Biomarkers, Tumor