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Semin Oncol. 2007 Aug;34(4):354-64.

Future strategies for targeted therapies and tailored patient management in pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Pancreatic cancer represents the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. The vast majority of patients are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease, at which time gemcitabine-based chemotherapy is typically offered as the standard of care. However, as investigators have arrived at a greater understanding of pancreatic tumor biology, newer therapeutic agents that "target" specific pathways or molecules governing the growth, spread, and maintenance of tumor cells have gained considerable interest. Erlotinib, an orally bioavailable small molecule inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor, is the first of these targeted compounds to be approved for use in combination with gemcitabine for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Other targeted agents, including monoclonal antibodies and small molecule inhibitors aimed at a variety of targets, also have been extensively evaluated, with limited success to date. A newer strategy worth pursuing involves tailoring an individual patient's therapy according to the molecular characteristics of both host and tumor, as has shown promise in other solid tumor types.

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