Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) presents many challenges in the clinic and there are many areas for improvement in diagnostics and patient management. The five-year survival rate is around 7.2% as the majority of patients present with advanced disease at diagnosis that is treatment resistant. Approximately 10-15% of PDAC cases have a hereditary basis or Familial Pancreatic Cancer (FPC). Here we demonstrate the use of circulating free DNA (cfDNA) in plasma as a prognostic biomarker in PDAC. The levels of cfDNA correlated with disease status, disease stage, and overall survival. Furthermore, we show for the first time via BEAMing that the majority of hereditary or familial PDAC cases (around 84%) are negative for a KRAS somatic mutation. In addition, KRAS mutation negative cases harbor somatic mutations in potentially druggable genes such as KIT, PDGFR, MET, BRAF, and PIK3CA that could be exploited in the clinic. Finally, familial or hereditary cases have a longer overall survival compared to sporadic cases (10.2 vs. 21.7 months, respectively). Currently, all patients are treated the same in the clinic with cytotoxic agents, although here we demonstrate that there are different subtypes of tumors at the genetic level that could pave the way to personalized treatment.
Keywords: cfDNA; hereditary and familial pancreatic cancer; liquid biopsy; potentially druggable genes; somatic mutation profiling.