Pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia-can we detect early pancreatic cancer?

Beate Haugk
Histopathology 2010, 57 (4): 503-14
Haugk B
(2010) Histopathology 57, 503-514
Pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia - can we detect early pancreatic cancer? Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers, with an incidence equalling mortality. Pancreatic cancer is a heterogeneous group in which pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common. It is now established that PDAC develops through stepwise progression from precursor lesions. Detection and treatment of these precursor lesions would allow curative treatment. Three precursor lesions for PDAC have been identified. Two of these - mucinous cystic neoplasms (MCNs) and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) - are rare, radiologically detectable, cystic precursor lesions which can be cured if treated at the preinvasive stage. The third and most common precursor lesion has recently been defined as pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). PanINs are microscopic lesions with no clinical correlate. They display a spectrum of cyto-architectural changes (PanIN-1, PanIN-2 and PanIN-3) mirrored in an increasing accumulation of molecular genetic changes, with PanIN-3 sharing many of the alterations with PDAC. Great advances in the understanding of pancreatic carcinogenesis have opened avenues for diagnosis and chemoprevention. However, access to the pancreas is limited, molecular tests are at the early stages and too little is known about the natural history of early PanINs to justify resection. Currently, screening focuses upon high-risk individuals only.

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