Gastric cancer is thought to result from a combination of environmental factors and the accumulation of specific genetic alterations due to increasing genetic instability, and consequently affects mainly older patients. Less than 10% of patients present with the disease before 45 years of age (early onset gastric carcinoma) and these patients are believed to develop gastric carcinomas with a molecular genetic profile differing from that of sporadic carcinomas occurring at a later age. In young patients, the role of genetics is presumably greater than in older patients, with less of an impact from environmental carcinogens. As a result, hereditary gastric cancers and early onset gastric cancers can provide vital information about molecular genetic pathways in sporadic cancers and may aid in the unraveling of gastric carcinogenesis. This review focuses on the molecular genetics of gastric cancer and also focuses on early onset gastric cancers as well as familial gastric cancers such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. An overview of the various pathways of importance in gastric cancer, as discovered through in-vitro , primary cancer and mouse model studies, is presented and the clinical importance of CDH1 mutations is discussed.
Keywords: Helicobacter Pylori infection, oncogenes, Proliferation, Growth-Inhibitory Signals, Apoptosis, Angiogenesis
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