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Mutat Res. 2009 Mar-Jun;681(2-3):299-307. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2008.12.001. Epub 2008 Dec 27.

Genetic predisposition and environmental risk factors to pancreatic cancer: A review of the literature.

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Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Italy.


Some cases of pancreatic cancer (PC) are described to cluster within families. With the exception of PALLD gene mutations, which explain only a very modest fraction of familial cases, the genetic basis of familial PC is still obscure. Here the literature was reviewed in order to list the known genes, environmental factors, and health conditions associated with PC or involved in the carcinogenesis of the pancreas. Most of the genes listed are responsible for various well-defined cancer syndromes, such as CDKN2A (familial atypical mole-multiple melanoma, FAMMM), the mismatch repair genes (Lynch Syndrome), TP53 (Li-Fraumeni syndrome), APC (familial adenomatous polyposis), and BRCA2 (breast-ovarian familial cancer), where PC is part of the cancer spectrum of the disease. In addition, in this review I ranked known/possible risk factors extending the analysis to the hereditary pancreatitis (HP), diabetes, or to specific environmental exposures such as smoking. It appears that these factors contribute strongly to only a small proportion of PC cases. Recent work has revealed new genes somatically mutated in PC, including alterations within the pathways of Wnt/Notch and DNA mismatch repair. These new insights will help to reveal new candidate genes for the susceptibility to this disease and to better ascertain the actual contribution of the familial forms.

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