Pancreatic cancer metastasis: Are we being pre-EMTed?

Srustidhar Das, Surinder K. Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Pancreatic cancer, often considered a metastatic disease at the time of clinical diagnosis due to lack of any reliable early diagnostic marker(s), is refractory to conventional chemo-and radiotherapy and has a dismal 5-year survival rate of only 6%. Although surgical removal of the primary tumor is considered to be curative, the 5-year survival rate is no more than 20% even in patients with clear resection margins (R0). The recurrence of local and metastatic disease (primarily liver metastasis) post resection is considered to be the leading cause of mortality in these patients. In addition, instances of metastatic disease without any local recurrence post resection have also been observed. Cancer metastasis is the primary cause of mortality in cancer patients and is classically viewed as a late event during the progression of the disease, which is supp orted by the genetic studies used to understand the evolution of pancreatic cancer. However, this view has recently been challenged by studies using mathematical modeling and genetically labeled mouse models of pancreatic cancer to understand the dynamics of tumor cell dissemination and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of tumor cells well before the primary tumor is formed. Given that EMT is a hallmark process that initiates the metastatic seeding of cancer cells and the dismal prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients even after efficient removal of the primary tumor (99.9%), an early dissemination hypothesis of cancer cells cannot be undermined. In this review, we will discuss the current views regarding pancreatic cancer metastasis with particular emphasis on the epithelial to mesenchymal transition, its influence on the selection of patients for surgical resection and the therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1249-1255
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT)
  • Linear progression model
  • Metastasis
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Parallel progression model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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