Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 70, Issue 19, pp 3631–3656 | Cite as

Biomarkers for predicting future metastasis of human gastrointestinal tumors

  • Lui Ng
  • Ronnie Tung Ping Poon
  • Roberta Pang


The recent advances in surgery and radiation therapy have significantly improved the prognosis of patients with primary cancer, and the major challenge of cancer treatment now is metastatic disease development. The 5-year survival rate of cancer patients who have distant metastasis at diagnosis is extremely low, suggesting that prediction and early detection of metastasis would definitely improve their prognosis because suitable patient therapeutic management and treatment strategy can be provided. Cancer cells from a primary site give rise to a metastatic tumor via a number of steps which require the involvement and altered expression of many regulators. These regulators may serve as biomarkers for predicting metastasis. Over the past few years, numerous regulators have been found correlating with metastasis. In this review, we summarize the findings of a number of potential biomarkers that are involved in cadherin–catenin interaction, integrin signaling, PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling and cancer stem cell identification in gastrointestinal cancers. We will also discuss how certain biomarkers are associated with the tumor microenvironment that favors cancer metastasis.


Metastasis Hepatocellular carcinoma Colorectal cancer Gastric cancer Pancreatic cancer Esophageal cancer 


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lui Ng
    • 1
  • Ronnie Tung Ping Poon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roberta Pang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  2. 2.Centre for Cancer ResearchThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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