Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in Canada and the United States and has the most dismal survival rates among any solid malignancy. Most patients are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer once the disease has progressed into an advanced or metastatic stage, making the only curative approach of resection surgery impossible. The persistent delayed or missed diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be attributed to the absence of early symptoms and the lack of efficient non-invasive screening or diagnostic tests in clinical practice. Given that earlier diagnosis is critical for ameliorating patients' survival rates, there is an urgent need for biomarkers with enough sensitivity and specificity to help diagnose pancreatic cancer early. Serological biomarkers provide a minimally invasive and efficient way of detecting pancreatic cancer, however, there is currently no marker with sufficient diagnostic sensitivity and specificity to identify early cancer patients. This review focuses on the classical tumor markers for PDAC as well as emerging markers. In addition, we will discuss an integrative proteomic approach used in our lab to identify a panel of biomarkers that have the potential to allow the early detection of PDAC.This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: From protein structures to clinical applications.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.