Serum biomarkers for improved diagnostic of pancreatic cancer: a current overview

  • S. Bünger
  • T. Laubert
  • U. J. Roblick
  • J. K. HabermannEmail author



Complete resection constitutes the only curative approach in pancreatic cancer but is possible only in a minority of patients due to advanced stages upon diagnosis. Consequently, early detection is crucial for curative treatment. Clinical routine still lacks efficient, non-invasive screening assays, and 80–90% of pancreatic carcinomas are detected at unresectable stages. A wide range of serum proteins have been in the focus of intensive search for biomarkers specific for pancreatic cancer. This article will give an overview on serum biomarkers with screening potential for pancreatic malignancy.

Design and methods

PUBMED database was searched for articles, and 43 manuscripts were selected that provided data regarding biomarkers used, type of assay, study population, sample cohort quality and diagnostic performance.


Superior values for diagnostic performance were shown for MIC-1, PAM4, OPN, HSP27, TPS, TSGF, and CAM17.1 as individual markers. Panels of biomarkers comprised CA 19-9, MCSF, CEA, SAA, Haptoglobin, TSGF, CA 242, and HSP27. Individually or in concerted form, sensitivity and specificity ranged from 77 to 100% and 84–100%, respectively.


While the above named markers show high screening potential for pancreatic cancer, standardized validation studies using multiplex assays are required to pave the way for clinical routine application.


Early detection Pancreatic cancer screening Serum biomarker Serum diagnostics Tumor marker 



We declare that we have no conflict of interest. Grants from the Ad Infinitum Foundation, the Werner and Clara Kreitz Foundation and the H.W. & J. Hector Foundation are gratefully acknowledged. This review was performed in collaboration with the “North German Tumorbank of Colorectal Cancer” (DKH #108446) and the biobank “ColonBiomics” being integral part of the Surgical Center for Translational Oncology-Lübeck (SCTO-L).

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Bünger
    • 1
  • T. Laubert
    • 1
  • U. J. Roblick
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. K. Habermann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory for Surgical Research, Department of SurgeryUniversity of LübeckLübeckGermany
  2. 2.Department of Medical Biochemistry and BiophysicsKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

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