Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths, with a low 5-year survival rate of about 7% due to its highly invasive nature. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) comprises more than 90% of all pancreatic cancer cases. At the time of detection, around 80% of cases harbor metastases due to the lack of early diagnosis. For decades, scientists have primarily focused on dissecting the origin of pancreatic cancer through genetic alterations and their contribution to diagnosis. Recently, PDAC research has turned into epigenetics to revolutionize our understanding about the silencing of critical regulatory genes. Epigenetic events can be divided mechanistically into various components, including DNA methylation, histone posttranslational modification, nucleosome remodeling, and regulation of transcription or translation by microRNA. The identified epigenetic processes in PDAC contribute to its specific epigenotype and are correlated phenotypic features. Strikingly, some of them have been suggested to have potential as cancer biomarkers, for disease monitoring, prognosis, and risk validation. As epigenetic aberrations are reversible, their correction will become as a promising therapeutic target.
Part of the book: DNA Repair