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Drugs. 2000 May;59(5):1071-89.

Pancreatic cancer: a review of emerging therapies.

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  • 1The Pancreatic Diseases Centre, Montreal General Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Quebec, Canada.


The incidence of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas has risen steadily over the past 4 decades. Since pancreatic cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, and because of the lack of effective therapies, the prognosis of such patients is extremely poor. Despite advances in our understanding of the molecular biology of pancreatic cancer, the systemic treatment of this disease remains unsatisfactory. Conventional chemotherapy has not produced dramatic improvements in response rates or patient survival. New treatment strategies are clearly needed. This paper reviews emerging therapies for pancreatic carcinoma. A more profound understanding of the molecular biology of cell growth and proliferation, as well as of neoplastic cell transformation, has led to advances in several areas, including the use of somatostatin analogues and antiandrogens as adjuvant therapy; inhibition of tumour growth and metastasis by inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases and angiogenesis, and by small molecules such as retinoids, which interfere with progression through the cell cycle; immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies; disruption of intracellular signal transduction with farnesyltransferase inhibitors; and finally gene therapy with specifically designed vaccines.

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