New therapeutic options opened by the molecular classification of gastric cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2018 May 14;24(18):1942-1961. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i18.1942.


Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most lethal and aggressive cancers, being the third cause of cancer related death worldwide. Even with radical gastrectomy and the latest generation of molecular chemotherapeutics, the numbers of recurrence and mortality remains high. This is due to its biological heterogeneity based on the interaction between multiple factors, from genomic to environmental factors, diet or infections with various pathogens. Therefore, understanding the molecular characteristics at a genomic level is critical to develop new treatment strategies. Recent advances in GC molecular classification provide the unique opportunity to improve GC therapy by exploiting the biomarkers and developing novel targeted therapy specific to each subtype. This article highlights the molecular characteristics of each subtype of gastric cancer that could be considered in shaping a therapeutic decision, and also presents the completed and ongoing clinical trials addressed to those targets. The implementation of the novel molecular classification system will allow a preliminary patient selection for clinical trials, a mandatory issue if it is desired to test the efficacy of a certain inhibitor to the given target. This will represent a substantial advance as well as a powerful tool for targeted therapy. Nevertheless, translating the scientific results into new personalized treatment opportunities is needed in order to improve clinical care, the survival and quality of life of patients with GC.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Gastric cancer; Immunotherapy; Molecular classification; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Gastrectomy
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Patient Selection
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Quality of Life
  • Stomach / pathology
  • Stomach / surgery
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / mortality
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor