Xu Z.-W., Friess H., Buchler M.W.

Pancreatic cancer remains a leading cause of cancer-related death, challenging basic and clinical researchers worldwide. More effective diagnostic and treatment options require better definition of the pathophysiological changes of pancreatic cancer at the molecular level. In this review, we will discuss a number of changes which are commonly present in pancreatic cancer, including 1) molecular alterations in three families of growth factors and their receptors, 2) molecular alterations in tumor suppressor genes, and 3) mutations of the K-ras protooncogene. In addition, we will also discuss several apoptosis-related genes which were recently found to have an important role in pancreatic cancer with regard to prognosis and new therapeutic targeting points. A better understanding of the molecular alterations of pancreatic cancer will hopefully lead us to better strategies for diagnosis and treatment of this dismal disease in the future.

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