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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2009, Article ID 804108, 8 pages
Review Article

Anti-EGFR-Targeted Therapy for Esophageal and Gastric Cancers: An Evolving Concept

1Arizona Cancer Center, 1515 N. Campbell Avenue, Room 1969G, P.O. Box 245024, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA
2Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210202, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA

Received 23 January 2009; Accepted 20 May 2009

Academic Editor: Brigette Ma

Copyright © 2009 Tomislav Dragovich and Christopher Campen. 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.


Cancers of the esophagus and stomach present a major health burden worldwide. In the past 30 years we have witnessed some interesting shifts in terms of epidemiology of esophago gastric cancers. Regardless of a world region, the majority of patients diagnosed with esophageal or gastric cancers die from progression or recurrence of their disease. While there are many active cytotoxic agents for esophageal and stomach cancers, their impact on the disease course has been modest at best. Median survival for patients with advanced gastroesophageal cancer is still less than a year. Therefore, novel strategies, based on our understanding of biology and genetics, are desperately needed. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway has been implicated in pathophysiology of many epithelial malignancies, including esophageal and stomach cancers. EGFR inhibitors, small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies, have been explored in patients with esophageal and gastric cancers. It appears that tumors of the distal esophagus and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) may be more sensitive to EGFR blockade than distal gastric adenocarcinomas. Investigations looking into potential molecular predictors of sensitivity to EGFR inhibitors for patients with esophageal and GEJ cancers are ongoing. While we are still searching for those predictors, it is clear that they will be different from ones identified in lung and colorectal cancers. Further development of EGFR inhibitors for esophageal and GEJ cancers should be driven by better understanding of EGFR pathway disregulation that drives cancer progression in a sensitive patient population.