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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 4873089, 13 pages
Review Article

Can Molecular Biomarkers Change the Paradigm of Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis?

Translational Oncology Division, OncoHealth Institute, Health Research Institute, University Hospital Fundación Jiménez Díaz-UAM, Madrid, Spain

Received 9 June 2016; Revised 28 July 2016; Accepted 3 August 2016

Academic Editor: Hanlin L. Wang

Copyright © 2016 Javier Martinez-Useros and Jesus Garcia-Foncillas. 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 ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the most lethal types of tumour, and its incidence is rising worldwide. Although survival can be improved when these tumours are detected at an early stage, this cancer is usually asymptomatic, and the disease only becomes apparent after metastasis. The only prognostic biomarker approved by the FDA to date is carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9); however, the specificity of this biomarker has been called into question, and diagnosis is usually based on clinical parameters. Tumour size, degree of differentiation, lymph node status, presence of distant metastasis at diagnosis, protein levels of KI-67 or C-reactive protein, and mutational status of P53, KRAS, or BRCA2 are the most useful biomarkers in clinical practice. In addition to these, recent translational research has provided evidence of new biomarkers based on different molecules involved in endoplasmic reticulum stress, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and noncoding RNA panels, especially microRNAs and long noncoding RNAs. These new prospects open new paths to tumour detection using minimally or noninvasive techniques such as liquid biopsies. To find sensitive and specific biomarkers to manage these patients constitutes a challenge for the research community and for public health policies.