Introduction: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a disease of high lethality. Invasive tissue biopsies of primary or metastatic lesions remain the gold standard for diagnosis, but repeated sampling is infeasible. Noninvasive liquid biopsies offer new opportunities for early diagnosis for high-risk cohorts, and for the longitudinal analysis of tumor evolution and progression in patients on therapy. Liquid biopsies can capture tumor-associated components, such as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), extracellular vesicles (EVs), and circulating tumor cells (CTCs), each of which provides genomic and molecular information about the underlying PDAC that can potentially inform clinical decisions. Areas covered: Here, we reviewed current knowledge and recent technological advances regarding liquid biopsy in PDAC and mention the pitfalls and benefits in each methodology. We also discuss clinical correlative studies for diagnosis and prognosis in PDAC. Expert opinion:In pancreatic cancer where tissue samples are limited and repeated tissue biopsies are mostly invasive and infeasible, liquid biopsies opened a new window for tumor diagnosis, molecular stratification, and treatment monitoring. While none of the isolation and analysis methods have gained widespread clinical acceptance, it is imperative that the advantages and limitations of each platform for isolation and analysis of tumor associated components are taken into consideration.
Keywords: Cell-free DNA; circulating tumor cells; extracellular vesicles; liquid biopsies; pancreatic cancer.