Affiliation: Department of Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, 535 Barnhill Drive, RT 130, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.
Obesity, now a worldwide epidemic, causes myriad medical problems. One of the most significant obesity-related problems is the well-recognized relationship between obesity and various malignancies, including pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease – the annual death rate nearly approximates its incidence. While surgical extirpation provides the best chance at long term survival, systemic therapy is largely ineffective: even those patients undergoing successful operative resection have only approximately 20% 5-year survival. These poor outcomes are largely a consequence of poor understanding of tumor biology. Clearly, identification of novel treatment strategies is of paramount importance; investigation of pancreatic cancer biology from the novel aspect of obesity offers the potential to identify unique therapeutic targets. This manuscript reviews the epidemiology, clinical findings, and putative basic science mechanisms underlying obesity-related pancreatic cancer.