Advances in Diagnostic and Intraoperative Molecular Imaging of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreas. 2018 Jul;47(6):675-689. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000001075.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a dismal prognosis. To improve outcomes, there is a critical need for improved tools for detection, accurate staging, and resectability assessment. This could improve patient stratification for the most optimal primary treatment modality. Molecular imaging, used in combination with tumor-specific imaging agents, can improve established imaging methods for PDAC. These novel, tumor-specific imaging agents developed to target specific biomarkers have the potential to specifically differentiate between malignant and benign diseases, such as pancreatitis. When these agents are coupled to various types of labels, this type of molecular imaging can provide integrated diagnostic, noninvasive imaging of PDAC as well as image-guided pancreatic surgery. This review provides a detailed overview of the current clinical imaging applications, upcoming molecular imaging strategies for PDAC, and potential targets for imaging, with an emphasis on intraoperative imaging applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative / methods
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreas / surgery
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity