Major molecular markers in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and their roles in screening, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment

Pancreas. 2011 Jul;40(5):644-52. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0b013e31821ff741.


Pancreatic cancer is notorious for its late presentation, early and aggressive local invasion, metastatic potential, and poor outcome. It presents at a clinically advanced stage that precludes the possibility of surgical resection in most cases and shows constitutive resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy in others. As a result, mortality from this disease parallels its incidence rates.Recent breakthroughs in the molecular biology of pancreatic cancer have assisted in translational research, giving hope for individualized therapy and better disease management. Molecular biology tools are guiding early diagnosis, the assessment of prognosis, and isolation of novel, more effective therapeutic targets.This review discusses the signature mutations of pancreatic cancer, implications of these mutations to pancreatic cancer biology, their linked pathways, and recent advances in their understanding as biomarkers as diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic tools in dealing with this disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / therapy
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genes, p16
  • Genes, p53
  • Genes, ras
  • Growth Substances / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Smad4 Protein / genetics
  • Translational Medical Research


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Growth Substances
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • SMAD4 protein, human
  • Smad4 Protein
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases