Role of genetic testing in hepatic, pancreatic, and biliary cancers

Surg Oncol. 2022 Sep:44:101844. doi: 10.1016/j.suronc.2022.101844. Epub 2022 Sep 5.


Hepatic, pancreatic, and biliary (HPB) cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), and cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) cause a disproportionate amount of the global cancer-related mortality. Despite advances in surgical technique and improved systemic therapies, overall 5-year survival remains dismal, especially for patients with pancreatic and biliary cancer. Historically, systemic therapies for patients with HPB cancers were administered in a "one-size-fits-all" approach due to limited reliable data on efficacy for specific patient populations. However, recent advances in genetic testing techniques have greatly improved our understanding of HPB oncogenesis, shedding light on specific genetic mutations responsible for progression from physiologic cellular regulation to uninhibited cellular replication and invasive cancer. Investigations into the oncogenesis of HPB cancers have revealed multiple actionable genetic variants, as well as increased susceptibilities to currently available systemic therapies. For example, patients with PDAC and a known BRCA mutation are more likely to benefit from FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine plus cisplatin. While patients with CCA and a IDH1 mutation may benefit from ivosidenib. As a result, many national and societal guidelines now recommend some form of genetic testing in the workup of patients with HPB cancers. We herein review the role of genetic testing in these aggressive cancers including DNA sequencing techniques, clinically relevant mutations, therapeutic implications, and current clinical recommendations.

Keywords: Biliary; Cancer; Genetics; Liver; Pancreas; Testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / pathology
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Cisplatin

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma