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The aim of the study was to investigate serum thymidine kinase 1 (S-TK) activity as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).Using the sensitive TK activity assay DiviTum, preoperative serum samples from 404 PDAC, 28 chronic pancreatitis, and 25 autoimmune pancreatitis patients and 83 healthy volunteers were analyzed. The preoperative S-TK activities of 54 PDAC patients who received neoadjuvant therapy (nTx) were also compared with those of 258 PDAC patients who did not receive nTx.The preoperative S-TK activities of PDAC patients were significantly higher and discriminatory from autoimmune and chronic pancreatitis patients and control groups. The S-TK activity in PDAC patients was associated with overall survival. Patients with S-TK activity of less than 80 Du (DiviTum units)/L demonstrated median survival of 20.3 months with an estimated 18.0% 5-year survival rate; for S-TK activity of 80 Du/L or greater, median survival was 15.1 months with a 6.8% 5-year survival rate. For early-stage PDAC, these differences were even more pronounced. The S-TK activity in the nTx group was significantly higher than that in the group not receiving nTx.Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas reveal a significant increase in S-TK activity, which is associated with overall survival, especially in early tumor stages. Serum thymidine kinase 1 activity may be a useful parameter for monitoring nTx efficacy.