In recent years, the study of genomic alterations and protein expression involved in the pathways of breast cancer carcinogenesis has provided an increasing number of targets for drugs development in the setting of metastatic breast cancer (i.e., trastuzumab, everolimus, palbociclib, etc.) significantly improving the prognosis of this disease. These drugs target specific molecular abnormalities that confer a survival advantage to cancer cells. On these bases, emerging evidence from clinical trials provided increasing proof that the genetic landscape of any tumor may dictate its sensitivity or resistance profile to specific agents and some studies have already showed that tumors treated with therapies matched with their molecular alterations obtain higher objective response rates and longer survival. Predictive molecular biomarkers may optimize the selection of effective therapies, thus reducing treatment costs and side effects. This review offers an overview of the main molecular pathways involved in breast carcinogenesis, the targeted therapies developed to inhibit these pathways, the principal mechanisms of resistance and, finally, the molecular biomarkers that, to date, are demonstrated in clinical trials to predict response/resistance to targeted treatments in metastatic breast cancer.
Keywords: breast cancer; molecular biomarker; targeted therapy; treatment resistance.