In our current understanding of pancreatic carcinoma, these neoplasms can arise either sporadically or in familial dusters. Extensive chromosome abnormalities are frequent, as is loss of heterozygosity at loci known to contain the tumor suppressor genes DCC, p53, and MTS1. Although the genetic examination of all pancreatic cancers is important, the examination of familial cases is especially useful in that these allow the identification of uniform genetic alterations that are inherited through the germ line. Much additional work needs to be done before the genetic basis of pancreatic cancer is completely understood. Although our knowledge is limited, it is clear that genetic analyses can be used to establish the prognosis for a patient with pancreatic cancer and, it is hoped, will someday be used in the management, treatment, and detection of pancreatic cancer.
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