The Prognostic Significance of the Hedgehog Signaling Pathway in Colorectal Cancer

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Despite significant advances in the management of colorectal cancer (CRC) the identification of new prognostic biomarkers continues to be a challenge. Since its initial discovery, the role of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway in carcinogenesis has been extensively studied. We herein review and comment on the prognostic significance of the Hh signaling pathway in CRC. The differential expression of Hh pathway components between malignant and nonmalignant conditions as well as correlation of Hh activation markers with various clinicopathological parameters and the effect on disease-free survival, overall survival, and disease recurrence in patients with CRC is summarized and discussed. According to the studies reviewed herein the activation of the Hh pathway seems to be correlated with adverse clinicopathological features and worse survival. However, to date study results show significant variability with regard to the effect on outcomes. Such results need to be interpreted carefully and emphasize the need for further well designed studies to characterize the actual influence of the Hh pathway in CRC prognosis.

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