[Genetics of pancreatic cancer: recent advances in molecular diagnosis].Nihon Geka Gakkai Zasshi 2002; 103(6):476-81NG
Pancreatic cancer is an important cause of death from cancer throughout the world. Until recently, pancreatic cancer was a poorly understood disease. Research in the past decade has shown conclusively, however, that pancreatic cancer is primarily genetic in nature. Inactivation with a variety of tumor-suppressor genes such as p53, p16, and DPC4, and genome-maintenance genes such as BRCA2, coupled with the activation of oncogenes such as K-ras, are a few of the mutations that trigger the growth of cancerous cells. The genetic profile of pancreatic cancer has reshaped the nomenclature describing histological progression in pancreatic ductal tumorigenesis. K-ras mutations frequently occur early, whereas changes in the expression and genetic integrity of the p16 gene appear in intermediate lesions, and the inactivation of the p53 and DPC4 genes and activation of telomerase occur late in the neoplastic progression. Although the majority of pancreatic cancers occur sporadically, a minority has been shown to aggregate in families and has aided our understanding of pancreatic tumorigenesis. An improved understanding of the genetics of pancreatic cancer should lead to the development of gene-based screening tests and novel rational therapies.