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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 269641, 10 pages
Review Article

Anatomical, Physiological, and Molecular Imaging for Pancreatic Cancer: Current Clinical Use and Future Implications

1Department of Radiology, Banner-MD Anderson Cancer Center, Gilbert, AZ 85234, USA
2Department of Oncology, Banner-MD Anderson Cancer Center, Gilbert, AZ 85234, USA
3Department of GI Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 4 March 2015; Revised 18 May 2015; Accepted 19 May 2015

Academic Editor: Sonshin Takao

Copyright © 2015 John Chang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is one of the deadliest human malignancies. Early detection is difficult and effective treatment is limited. Verifying the presence of micrometastatic dissemination and vessel invasion remains elusive, limiting radiological staging once this diagnosis is made. Diagnostic imaging provides independent tools to evaluate and characterize the biologic behavior of pancreatic cancer. Conventional anatomic imaging alone with either CT or MRI yields useful information on organ involvement but is limited in providing molecular and physiological information. Molecular imaging techniques such as PET or MRS provide information on metabolic and signaling pathways. Advanced MR sequences that target physiological parameters expand imaging options to characterize these tumors. By considering the parametric data from these three imaging approaches (anatomic, molecular, and physiological) we can better define specific tumor signatures. Such parametric characterization can provide insight into tumor metabolism, cellular density, protein expression, focal perfusion, and vascular permeability of these tumors. Radiogenomics research has already demonstrated ability to obtain information about cancer’s genotype and phenotype; this is without invasive procedures or surgery. Further advances in these areas of experimental imaging hold promise to enable future clinical advances in detection and therapy of pancreatic cancer.