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International Journal of Surgical Oncology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 406830, 14 pages
Review Article

The Current State of Targeted Agents in Rectal Cancer

1Department of Surgery, Catholic University of Daegu, 3056-6 Daemyung-4 Dong, Nam-Gu, Daegu 705-718, Republic of Korea
2Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Box 0426, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 9 January 2012; Accepted 16 March 2012

Academic Editor: Nikolaos Touroutoglou

Copyright © 2012 Dae Dong Kim and Cathy Eng. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Targeted biologic agents have an established role in treating metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC), and the integration of targeted therapies into the treatment of CRC has resulted in significant improvements in outcomes. Rapidly growing insight into the molecular biology of CRC, as well as recent developments in gene sequencing and molecular diagnostics, has led to high expectations for the identification of molecular markers to be used in personalized treatment regimens. The mechanisms of action and toxicities of targeted therapies differ from those of traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy. Targeted therapy has raised new insight about the possibility of tailoring treatment to an individual’s disease, the assessment of drug effectiveness and toxicity, and the economics of cancer care. This paper covers the last decade of clinical trials that have explored the toxicity and efficacy of targeted agents in locally advanced and metastatic CRC and how their role may benefit patients with rectal cancer. Future efforts should include prospective studies of these agents in biomarker-defined subpopulations, as well as studies of novel agents that target angiogenesis, tumor-stromal interaction, and the cell signaling pathways implicated in rectal cancer.