The recurring features of molecular subtypes in distinct gastrointestinal malignancies-A systematic review

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2021 Aug:164:103428. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2021.103428. Epub 2021 Jul 17.


In colorectal cancer (CRC), pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and gastric cancer (GC) multiple studies of inter-tumor heterogeneity have identified molecular subtypes, which correlate with clinical features. Our aim was to investigate the attributes of molecular subtypes across three different gastrointestinal cancer types. We performed a systematic search for publications on molecular subtypes or classifications in PDAC and GC and compared the described subtypes with the established consensus molecular subtypes of CRC. Examining the characteristics of subtypes across CRC, PDAC and GC resulted in four categories of subtypes. We describe uniting and distinguishing features within a mesenchymal, an epithelial, an immunogenic and a metabolic and digestive subtype category. We conclude that molecular subtypes of CRC, PDAC and GC display relevant overlap in molecular features and clinical outcomes. This finding encourages quantitative studies on subtypes across different cancer types and could lead to a paradigm shift in future treatment strategies.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Consensus molecular subtypes; Gastric cancer; Pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics