INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this review is to highlight the molecular mechanisms leading to the development and progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with particular emphasis on tumor cell proliferation, local invasion, and metastasis. Recent advances in the field of PDAC biology have shed light on the molecular events that trigger PDAC initiation and maintenance. RESULTS: It is now clear that apart from the genetic alterations within the tumor cells, interactions of the tumor with its environment are necessary for proliferation and invasion. Interestingly, a number of developmental signaling pathways are reactivated in PDAC. Progress has also been made in the understanding of the molecular events that govern the process of metastasis. CONCLUSION: Although our understanding of the mechanisms underlying PDAC pathobiology are more advanced than ever, little progress has been made in the clinical treatment of PDAC, and successful bench-to-bedside transfer of knowledge to boost new treatment options is still unsatisfying.
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