Background: Different histological and molecular subtypes of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), with different molecular composition and survival statistics, have recently been recognised. Materials and methods: This review describes the currently available studies regarding molecular and histological subtypes in PDAC. Studies from major cohorts such as International Cancer Genome Consortium as well as smaller cohorts are reviewed. We discuss where the described subtypes overlap, where the discrepancies are and which paths forward could be taken regarding diagnosis, ontogeny and therapy. Results: Four molecular subtypes with strong overlap among the different studies can be found, next to a list of mixed findings. Two of the four subtypes (epithelial classical and mesenchymal basal-like) were represented in every study and were often discriminated in other solid tumours as well. These two subtypes differ substantially in prognosis. One biomarker has been discovered, only discriminating these two subtypes, and insights into subtype-specific therapeutic vulnerabilities are scarce. Conclusion: Subtypes can be reproducibly detected in cohorts of PDAC patients and two of them directly relate with prognosis. A consensus on the subtypes is warranted. Further discovery and validation studies are needed to identify strong biomarkers, to comprehend subtype ontogeny and to define strategies for precision medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1428-1436
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • cancer, histopathology, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, subtyping, transcriptomics

ID: 47093490