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Molecular Pathology of Pancreatic Cancer: From Bench-to-Bedside Translation

[ Vol. 13 , Issue. 6 ]


Vincenzo Corbo, Giampaolo Tortora and Aldo Scarpa   Pages 744 - 752 ( 9 )


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (referred here as pancreatic cancer) is a lethal disease with the worst prognosis among all solid tumors. Surgical resection represents the only hope for cure but it is possible only in patients that present with local disease (about 20% of cases). Whether dismal prognosis of pancreatic cancer is a result of late diagnosis or early dissemination to distant organ is still a debate. Moreover, this disease shows an intrinsic chemotherapeutic resistance that has been mainly ascribed to the presence of a dense stromal reaction that significantly impairs drugs delivery. Clinical management of pancreatic cancer patients relies on few molecular markers (e.g., the diagnostic marker CA19-9) that, however, present several limitations to their use. The clinical usefulness of somatic alterations in well-characterized genes (such as KRAS and TP53), whose detection is technically feasible in different biological samples, has been extensively investigated leading to inconsistent results. Furthermore, none of the candidate molecular markers identified in recent years has shown an appropriate clinical performance and therefore none is routinely used. This depicts a scenario where the identification of novel and effective clinical biomarkers is mandatory. Very recent genome-wide comprehensive studies have shed light on the high degree of genetic complexity and heterogeneity of the pancreatic cancers. Although far from being introduced into the clinical settings, results from those studies are expected to change definitively the perspective through which we look at the clinical management of pancreatic cancer patients towards a personalized cancer medicine.


Cancer, diagnosis, markers, pancreas, predictive, prognosis, MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY, adenocarcinoma, MicroRNAs, apoptosis


ARC-NET Research Centre and Department of Pathology and Diagnostic, University of Verona, Policlinico G.B. Rossi c/o Piastra Odontoiatrica, Piazzale L.A. Scuro, 10, 37134 Verona, Italy.

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