Molecular landscape and sub-classification of gastrointestinal cancers: a review of literature
The historical approach of diagnosing cancer types based entirely on anatomic origin and histologic features, and the “one-size-fit-all” therapeutic approach, are inadequate in modern cancer treatment. From decades of research we now know that cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease driven by complex genetic or epigenetic alterations. The advent of various high throughput molecular tools has now enabled us to view and sub-classify each cancer type based on their distinct molecular features, in addition to histologic classification, with the promise of individualized treatment strategies tailored towards each specific subtype to improve patient outcomes. In this review, we have made an effort to systematically review the most up-to-date, leading literature in molecular analysis and/or subtyping of major gastrointestinal cancers. These include esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), gastric cancer (GC) adenocarcinoma, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), gallbladder cancer (GBC), and colorectal cancer (CRC). For each cancer type we summarized the global mutational landscape, subgroup classification based on genomics, epigenetics, gene expression and/or proteomic analysis, and their salient clinicopathological features. We have highlighted the actionable mutations or mutational pathways that could help guide targeted therapies in the future.