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Trastuzumab, a humanized mouse monoclonal antibody directed against HER2 (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2), is currently a keystone in the treatment of breast cancer. Meanwhile, trastuzumab has been validated for use in other types of cancer too. But the data on HER2 expression in colorectal cancer are ambiguous, with reported overexpression of HER2 varying between zero and 84%. In this review these studies are evaluated and compared. It shows that many factors influence the determination of HER2-expression, especially of the intracellular fraction of HER2. It is concluded that although membranous overexpression of HER2 is low in colorectal cancer with only 5% of all patients being positive, a significant proportion of the patients (30%) shows cytoplasmic HER2 overexpression. The clinical impact of enhanced intracellular HER2 is not known, because the nature and origin have not completely been revealed yet. Enlightening this process could be a stepping stone towards targeting of intracellular HER2 as a treatment option.
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