Novel therapeutic agents targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have improved outcomes for patients with colorectal carcinoma. However, these therapies are effective only in a subset of patients. Activating mutations in the KRAS gene are found in 30-40% of colorectal tumors and are associated with poor response to anti-EGFR therapies. Thus, KRAS mutation status can predict which patient may or may not benefit from anti-EGFR therapy. Although many diagnostic tools have been developed for KRAS mutation analysis, validated methods and standardized testing procedures are lacking. This poses a challenge for the optimal use of anti-EGFR therapies in the management of colorectal carcinoma. Here we review the molecular basis of EGFR-targeted therapies and the resistance to treatment conferred by KRAS mutations. We also present guideline recommendations and a proposal for a European quality assurance program to help ensure accuracy and proficiency in KRAS mutation testing across the European Union.
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