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Adv Anat Pathol. 2008 Jul;15(4):185-95. doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e31817bf57d.

Molecular characterization of pancreatic neoplasms.

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Departments of Pathology, The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Molecular analyses of neoplasms of the pancreas, coupled with careful histopathologic examination has helped refine the classification of pancreatic neoplasia. A number of molecularly and histologically distinct subtypes of pancreatic neoplasms have been identified and, importantly, many of these subtypes have important clinical implications. For example, most of the solid-pseudopapillary neoplasms harbor mutations in the beta-catenin gene (CTNNB1), and, as a result, most solid-pseudopapillary neoplasms have an abnormal nuclear pattern of labeling with antibodies to the beta-catenin protein. Clinically, patients with a solid-pseudopapillary neoplasm have a much better prognosis than do patients with ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. Therefore, the immunolabeling of a pancreatic biopsy for the beta-catenin protein can help identify patients with low-risk neoplasms. It is clear that the time is now ripe for a new modern classification of neoplasms of the pancreas; a classification that does not abandon gross and microscopic pathology, but which instead integrates molecular findings with gross, microscopic, and clinical findings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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