Pancreatic cancer is a devastating malignancy and a leading cause of cancer mortality. Furthermore, early diagnosis represents a serious hurdle for clinicians as symptoms are non-specific and usually manifest in advanced, treatment-resistant stages of the disease.
Sources of data
Here, we review the rationale and progress of targeted therapies currently under investigation.
Areas of agreement
At present, chemoradiation regimes are administered palliatively, and produce only marginal survival benefits, underscoring a desperate need for more effective treatment modalities.
Areas of controversy
Questions have been raised as to whether erlotinib, the only targeted therapy to attain a statistically significant increase in median survival, is cost-effective.
The last decade of research has provided us with a wealth of information regarding the molecular nature of pancreatic cancer, leading to the identification of signalling pathways and their respective components which are critical for the maintenance of the malignant phenotype.
Areas timely for developing research
These proteins thus represent ideal targets for novel molecular therapies which embody an urgently needed novel treatment strategy.