Advances in early diagnosis and therapy of pancreatic cancer

Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2011 Apr;10(2):128-35. doi: 10.1016/s1499-3872(11)60021-0.


Background: Pancreatic cancer remains a devastating disease with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. Recent advances in diagnostic methods and therapeutic approaches have increased the possibility of improving the existing poor prognosis.

Data sources: English-language articles reporting early diagnosis and therapy of pancreatic cancer were searched from the MEDLINE and PubMed databases, Chinese-language articles were from CHKD (China Hospital Knowledge Database).

Result: The current literature about pancreatic cancer was reviewed from three aspects: statistics, screening and early detection, and therapy.

Conclusions: Early detection and screening of pancreatic cancer currently should be limited to high risk patients. Surgical resection is the only curative approach available, with some recent improvement in outcomes. Gemcitabine has been a standard treatment during the last decade. Gemcitabine-based combination treatment, especially combined with newer molecular targeted agents, is promising. The rationale for radiotherapy is controversial, but with the recent development of modern radiation delivery techniques, radiotherapy should be intensified. Patients with borderline pancreatic cancer could benefit from neoadjuvant therapy but more evidence is needed and the best neoadjuvant regimen is still to be determined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • CA-19-9 Antigen / blood
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Endosonography
  • Humans
  • Mucin-1 / analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-19-9 Antigen
  • MUC1 protein, human
  • Mucin-1