Early detection of pancreatic cancer using DNA-based molecular approaches
Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol . 2021 Jun 7. doi: 10.1038/s41575-021-00470-0. Online ahead of print.
Aatur D Singhi, Laura D Wood
Due to its poor prognosis and the late stage at which it is typically diagnosed, early detection of pancreatic cancer is a pressing clinical problem. Advances in genomic analysis of human pancreatic tissue and other biospecimens such as pancreatic cyst fluid, pancreatic juice and blood have opened the possibility of DNA-based molecular approaches for early detection of pancreatic cancer. In this Review, we discuss and focus on the pathological and molecular features of precancerous lesions of the pancreas, including pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm and mucinous cystic neoplasm, which are target lesions of early detection approaches. We also discuss the most prevalent genetic alterations in these precancerous lesions, including somatic mutations in the oncogenes KRAS and GNAS as well as tumour suppressor genes CDKN2A, TP53 and SMAD4. We highlight the latest discoveries related to genetic heterogeneity and multifocal neoplasia in precancerous lesions. In addition, we review specific approaches, challenges and clinically available assays for early detection of pancreatic cancer using DNA-based molecular techniques. Although detection and risk stratification of precancerous pancreatic neoplasms are difficult problems, progress in this field highlights the promise of molecular approaches for improving survival of patients with this disease.
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