Pancreatic Cancer - a Continuing Challenge in Oncology


1st Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research, Faculty of Medicine Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary


Pancreatic cancer is still one of the major health problems because of its rising incidence and the modest therapeutic results. The paper surveys the statistical data, the risk factors, the preneoplastic ductal lesions, the hormonal sensitivity, the possible transdifferentiation in the endocrine and exocrine parts and the possibilities for chemoprevention. Hungary is peculiar among the European countries because during the last 50 years the incidence of pancreatic cancer has displayed a 15-fold increase. Apart from smoking, additional risk factors seem to be important, and recently a puzzling association between Helicobacter pylori seropositivity and pancreatic cancer was found. First-degree relatives of patients with pancreatic cancer are also at increased risk of this tumor. The term pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) seems yet to be established, but the dynamics of these lesions needs to be further elucidated. Several lines of firmly established data indicate the hormonal sensitivity of this tumor, but still an unexplained discrepancy exists between the experimental and the clinical results. In addition to the somatostatin analogs, anti-gastrin vaccine is being tested. The mixed exocrine-endocrine tumors might suggest a real possibility of transdifferentiation between different compartments of the pancreas. Finally, the paper outlines the available data about the possibility of chemoprevention, including the role of cyclooxygenase inhibitors. Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 9, Nr 4, 252-263, 2003

Key words: pancreatic cancer; risk factors; PanIN; hormones; chemoprevention; review

Received: Nov 12, 2003; accepted: Nov 26, 2003
Correspondence: Attila ZALATNAI, 1st Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research, Faculty of Medicine Semmelweis University, Üllõi út 26. Budapest H-1085, Hungary; Tel: +(36-1) 266-1638, Fax: +(36-1) 317-1074; E-mail:

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