Objective The authors discuss ongoing research to determine the mechanisms by which peptide hormones regulate growth of gastrointestinal cancer and ways in which this information might be used to develop noncytotoxic therapy. Summary Background Approximately 100,000 people die of cancer of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract each year. Surgery is curative only when the tumor is localized. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy have limited efficacy for locally advanced or widespread disease. Various peptide hormones regulate the growth of these tumors. As for breast and prostate cancer, the growth regulatory effect of these hormones is being studied as a potential mechanism of hormonal therapy. Conclusion Gut peptide hormones regulate the growth of GI malignancies through all-specific receptors and signal transduction pathways. Interruption or modification of these growth regulatory mechanisms may lead to specific noncytotoxic therapy. In combination with surgical extirpation, such hormonally based treatment may be curative of advanced GI cancer.
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