Molecular subtyping of colorectal cancer: recent progress, new challenges and emerging opportunities.

May 1731, 17058



Wang W†, Kandimalla R†, Huang H†, Zhu L, Li Y, Gao F, Goel A*,Wang X*

Seminars in Cancer Biology 2018, doi:10.1016/j.semcancer.2018.05.002


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Similar to many other malignancies, CRC is a heterogeneous disease, making it a clinical challenge for optimization of treatment modalities in reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease. A more precise understanding of the biological properties that distinguish patients with colorectal tumors, especially in terms of their clinical features, is a key requirement towards a more robust, targeted-drug design, and implementation of individualized therapies. In the recent decades, extensive studies have reported distinct CRC subtypes, with a mutation-centered view of tumor heterogeneity. However, more recently, the paradigm has shifted towards transcriptome-based classifications, represented by six independent CRC taxonomies. In 2015, the colorectal cancer subtyping consortium reported the identification of four consensus molecular subtypes (CMSs), providing thus far the most robust classification system for CRC.

In this review, we summarize the historical timeline of CRC classification approaches; discuss their salient features and potential limitations that may require further refinement in near future. In other words, in spite of the recent encouraging progress, several major challenges prevent translation of molecular knowledge gleaned from CMSs into the clinic. Herein, we summarize some of these potential challenges and discuss exciting new opportunities currently emerging in related fields. We believe, close collaborations between basic researchers, bioinformaticians and clinicians are imperative for addressing these challenges, and eventually paving the path for CRC subtyping into routine clinical practice as we usher into the era of personalized medicine.


Colorectal cancer; Heterogeneity; Molecular subtyping; Personalized medicine

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