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Pancreatology. 2001;1(6):571-5.

Pancreatic cancer genetics.

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ICRF Molecular Oncology Unit, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


Cancer is a multi-stage process resulting from accumulation of genetic changes in the somatic DNA of normal cells. Although in the majority of cases the changes occur only in the cancer cells there is a small proportion of cancers where a germline mutation confers an increased risk for cancer. Cancer susceptibility genes have effects that range from high to low penetrance with a corresponding high to lower likelihood for cancer in the carriers. Pancreatic cancer-prone families have been identified and some of the germline mutations responsible elucidated. Germline mutations in the BRCA2, CDKN2A/p16, hMSH2, hMLH1, hPMS1, hPMS2, LKB1/STK1, and PRSS1 genes have been associated with increased risk for pancreatic cancer. The concept of screening high-risk groups for pancreatic cancer is emerging, preferably in specialised centres with a multidisciplinary team approach.

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