Pharmacological treatment of colorectal carcinoma currently proceeds through the administration of a combination of different chemotherapeutic agents. In the case of rectal carcinoma, radiation therapy also represents a therapeutic strategy. In an attempt at translating much-needed new targeted therapy to the clinics, p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors have been tested in clinical trials involving colorectal carcinoma patients, especially in combination with chemotherapy; however, despite the high expectations raised by a clear involvement of the p38 MAPK pathway in the response to therapeutic treatments, poor results have been obtained so far. In this work, we review recent insights into the exact role of the p38 MAPK pathway in response to currently available therapies for colorectal carcinoma, depicting an intricate scenario in which the p38 MAPK node presents many opportunities, as well as many challenges, for its perspective exploitation for clinical purposes.
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