Progress on molecular markers of pancreatic cancer

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Purpose of reviewTo describe advances in the development of biomarkers for pancreatic cancer over the past year.Recent findingsSeveral new approaches were taken in the search for biomarkers for pancreatic cancer. Studies of CA19-9 revealed new prognostic abilities of the already well known biomarker. New blood biomarkers were investigated and CEACAM1 and MIC-1 were found to be superior to CA19-9 at distinguishing cancer from normal but, unfortunately, not from chronic pancreatitis. MUC1 was reported to be superior to CA19-9 based on the use of a novel immunoassay. The superiority of the concept of a panel of biomarkers as opposed to single biomarkers was supported by several studies, but no such panel was identified. RNA levels in blood and DNA methylation in pancreatic juice yielded some promising findings. Advancements were also made in the area of tissue biomarkers, which can improve the diagnostic accuracy of fine-needle aspirations and provide prognostic information. A new source of potential biomarkers, microRNAs, also made its debut in the past year.SummaryThe tools to identify pancreatic-cancer biomarkers and sources of samples needed in this search are expanding. The field has not yet achieved its aims, but several encouraging breakthroughs have been made.

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