Different treatment strategies and molecular features between right-sided and left-sided colon cancers

World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Jun 7;21(21):6470-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i21.6470.


The colon is derived from the embryological midgut and hindgut separately, with the right colon and left colon having different features with regards to both anatomical and physiological characteristics. Cancers located in the right and left colon are referred to as right colon cancer (RCC) and left colon cancer (LCC), respectively, based on their apparent anatomical positions. Increasing evidence supports the notion that not only are there differences in treatment strategies when dealing with RCC and LCC, but molecular features also vary between them, not to mention the distinguishing clinical manifestations. Disease-free survival after radical surgery of both RCC and LCC are similar. In the treatment of RCC, the benefit gained from adjuvant FOLFIRI chemotherapy is superior, or at least similar, to LCC, but inferior to LCC if FOLFOX regimen is applied. On the other hand, metastatic LCC exhibits longer survival than that of RCC in a palliative chemotherapy setting. For KRAS wild-type cancers, LCC benefits more from cetuximab treatment than RCC. Moreover, advanced LCC shows a higher sensitivity to bevacizumab treatment in comparison with advanced RCC. Significant varieties exist at the molecular level between RCC and LCC, which may serve as the cause of all apparent differences. With respect to carcinogenesis mechanisms, RCC is associated with known gene types, such as MMR, KRAS, BRAF, and miRNA-31, while LCC is associated with CIN, p53, NRAS, miRNA-146a, miRNA-147b, and miRNA-1288. Regarding protein expression, RCC is related to GNAS, NQO1, telomerase activity, P-PDH, and annexin A10, while LCC is related to Topo I, TS, and EGFR. In addition, separated pathways dominate progression to relapse in RCC and LCC. Therefore, RCC and LCC should be regarded as two heterogeneous entities, with this heterogeneity being used to stratify patients in order for them to have the optimal, current, and novel therapeutic strategies in clinical practice. Additional research is needed to uncover further differences between RCC and LCC.

Keywords: Colon cancer; Left; Molecular; Right; Survival.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colectomy* / adverse effects
  • Colectomy* / mortality
  • Colonic Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Phenotype
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor