Pancreatic cancer is one of the most fatal human malignancies. Though a relatively rare malignancy, it remains one of the
deadliest tumors, with an extremely high mortality rate. The prognosis of patients with pancreatic cancer remains poor; only patients with
small tumors and complete resection have a chance of a complete cure. Pancreatic cancer responds poorly to conventional therapies, including
chemotherapy and irradiation. Tumor-specific targeted therapy is a relatively recent addition to the arsenal of anti-cancer therapies.
It is important to find novel targets to distinguish tumor cells from their normal counterparts in therapeutic approaches. In the past
few decades, studies have revealed the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic tumorigenesis, growth, invasion and metastasis. The proteins
that participate in the pathophysiological processes of pancreatic cancer might be potential targets for therapy. This review describes the
main players in perineural invasion, hypoxia and desmoplasia and the molecular mechanisms of these pathophysiological processes.
Keywords: Pancreatic cancer, perineural invasion, hypoxia, desmoplasia, therapeutic targets
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