Published online Sep 14, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i34.9838
Peer-review started: April 7, 2015
First decision: June 2, 2015
Revised: June 15, 2015
Accepted: August 25, 2015
Article in press: August 25, 2015
Published online: September 14, 2015
Gastric cancer (GC) is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in the world, representing a major global health issue. Although the incidence of GC is declining, the outcomes for GC patients remain dismal because of the lack of effective biomarkers to detect early GC and predict both recurrence and chemosensitivity. Current tumor markers for GC, including serum carcinoembryonic antigen and carbohydrate antigen 19-9, are not ideal due to their relatively low sensitivity and specificity. Recent improvements in molecular techniques are better able to identify aberrant expression of GC-related molecules, including oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, and DNA methylation, as novel molecular markers, although the molecular pathogenesis of GC is complicated by tumor heterogeneity. Detection of genetic and epigenetic alterations from gastric tissue or blood samples has diagnostic value in the management of GC. There are high expectations for molecular markers that can be used as new screening tools for early detection of GC as well as for patient stratification towards personalized treatment of GC through prediction of prognosis and drug-sensitivity. In this review, the studies of potential molecular biomarkers for GC that have been reported in the publicly available literature between 2012 and 2015 are reviewed and summarized, and certain highlighted papers are examined.
Core tip: Gastric cancer (GC), although declining in incidence in recent decades, is still the fourth most common malignancy and the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Although reliable biomarkers are necessary to improve the management of GC, conventional tumor markers have insufficient diagnostic performance. Detection of molecular markers in gastric tissue and blood samples may enhance the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic and prognostic tests for early stage GC and provide a means to monitor recurrence and predict response to treatment. In this review, we introduce recently reported candidates for GC-related biomarkers and overview important findings.