Clinical usefulness of K-ras gene mutation detection and cytology in pancreatic juice in the diagnosis and screening of pancreatic cancer.Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2001; 13(10):1153-9EJ
The significance of K-ras codon 12 mutation in pancreatic juice is still unclear. Although considerable controversy surrounds this question, the diagnostic utility of K-ras in patients with clinical suspicion of pancreatic cancer (PC) and in PC-risk patients remains unknown.
To study prospectively the utility of the K-ras gene mutation and cytology in the diagnosis and screening of PC, and to assess its contribution to clinical decision making.
Pancreatic juice samples obtained from 90 patients were evaluated prospectively. Group I (n = 40) comprised patients with clinical suspicion of PC; group II (n = 50) comprised 49 patients with chronic pancreatitis and one patient proceeding from a PC family screening. The K-ras mutation was detected by means of artificial restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) in DNA after polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification.
In group I, of those patients with a definitive diagnosis of PC, malignant cells were found in 27% and K-ras mutation in 44%. In five cases, molecular analysis contributed to diagnosis (4/11 with negative cytology and 1/2 with insufficient cytological material). K-ras mutation revealed an early tumour in one patient, and was the only sample available for diagnosis in another. In group II, the K-ras gene mutation was detected in 8/49 patients (16%) with chronic pancreatitis, one of whom developed PC (2%).
K-ras mutation analysis of pancreatic juice may complement cytological evaluation in the diagnosis of PC, in spite of its limited contribution to clinical decision making. The presence of K-ras mutation in chronic pancreatitis classifies a subgroup of PC-risk patients who should be evaluated carefully by long-term follow-up.