Role of targeted therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer

World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2016 Sep 15;8(9):642-55. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v8.i9.642.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a significant cause of cancer-related morbidity and mortality all over the world. Improvements of cytotoxic and biologic agents have prolonged the survival in metastatic CRC (mCRC), with a median overall survival of approximately 2 years and more in the past two decades. The biologic agents that have proven clinical benefits in mCRC mainly target vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In particular, bevacizumab targeting VEGF and cetuximab and panitumumab targeting EGFR have demonstrated significant survival benefits in combination with cytotoxic chemotherapy in the first-line, second-line, or salvage setting. Aflibercept, ramucirumab, and regorafenib are also used in second-line or salvage therapy. Recent retrospective analyses have shown that KRAS or NRAS mutations were negative predictive markers for anti-EGFR therapy. Based on the evidence from large randomized clinical trials, personalized therapy is necessary for patients with mCRC according to their tumor biology and characteristics. The aim of this paper was to summarize the results of the major randomized clinical trials and highlight the benefits of the molecular targeted agents in patients with mCRC.

Keywords: Aflibercept; Bevacizumab; Cetuximab; Metastatic colorectal cancer; Panitumumab; Ramucirumab; Regorafenib; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review