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Cancers (Basel). 2017 Sep 12;9(9). pii: E122. doi: 10.3390/cancers9090122.

EMT and Treatment Resistance in Pancreatic Cancer.

Author information

1
Digestive Molecular Clinical Oncology Research Unit, Section of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona 37134, Italy. nicola.gaianigo@studenti.univr.it.
2
Digestive Molecular Clinical Oncology Research Unit, Section of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona 37134, Italy. davide.melisi@univr.it.
3
Medical Oncology Unit, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata, Verona 37134, Italy. davide.melisi@univr.it.
4
Digestive Molecular Clinical Oncology Research Unit, Section of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona 37134, Italy. carmine.carbone@univr.it.

Abstract

Pancreatic cancer (PC) is the third leading cause of adult cancer mortality in the United States. The poor prognosis for patients with PC is mainly due to its aggressive course, the limited efficacy of active systemic treatments, and a metastatic behavior, demonstrated throughout the evolution of the disease. On average, 80% of patients with PC are diagnosed with metastatic disease, and the half of those who undergo surgery and adjuvant therapy develop liver metastasis within two years. Metastatic dissemination is an early event in PC and is mainly attributed to an evolutionary biological process called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). This innate mechanism could have a dual role during embryonic growth and organ differentiation, and in cancer progression, cancer stem cell intravasation, and metastasis settlement. Many of the molecular pathways decisive in EMT progression have been already unraveled, but little is known about the causes behind the induction of this mechanism. EMT is one of the most distinctive and critical features of PC, occurring even in the very first stages of tumor development. This is known as pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) and leads to early dissemination, drug resistance, and unfavorable prognosis and survival. The intention of this review is to shed new light on the critical role assumed by EMT during PC progression, with a particular focus on its role in PC resistance.

KEYWORDS:

EMT; pancreatic cancer; resistance

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