Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of all solid malignancies. Early detection offers the best hope for a cure, but characteristics of this disease, such as the lack of early clinical symptoms, make the early detection difficult. Recent genetic mapping of the molecular evolution of pancreatic cancer suggests that a large window of opportunity exists for the early detection of pancreatic neoplasia, and developments in cancer genetics offer new, potentially highly specific approaches for screening of curable pancreatic neoplasia. We review the challenges of screening for early pancreatic neoplasia, as well as opportunities presented by incorporating molecular genetics into these efforts.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.