Genetic abnormalities in pancreatic cancer.Mol Cancer 2003; 2:7MC
The incidence and mortality of pancreatic adenocarcinoma are nearly coincident having a five-year survival of less than 5%. Enormous advances have been made in our knowledge of the molecular alterations commonly present in ductal cancer and other pancreatic malignancies. One significant outcome of these studies is the recognition that common ductal cancers have a distinct molecular fingerprint compared to other nonductal or endocrine tumors. Ductal carcinomas typically show alteration of K-ras, p53, p16INK4, DPC4 and FHIT, while other pancreatic tumor types show different aberrations. Among those tumors arising from the exocrine pancreas, only ampullary cancers have a molecular fingerprint that may involve some of the same genes most frequently altered in common ductal cancers. Significant molecular heterogeneity also exists among pancreatic endocrine tumors. Nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors have frequent mutations in MEN-1 and may be further subdivided into two clinically relevant subgroups based on the amount of chromosomal alterations. The present review will provide a brief overview of the genetic alterations that have been identified in the various subgroups of pancreatic tumors. These results have important implications for the development of genetic screening tests, early diagnosis, and prognostic genetic markers.