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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):673-7.

Phase II study of radiotherapy combined with gemcitabine for locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Oncology Division, National Cancer Center Hospital, 5-1-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan.


Gemcitabine has been reported to be a potent radiosensitiser in human pancreatic cell lines. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of radiotherapy combined with gemcitabine for locally advanced pancreatic cancer. In all, 42 patients with pancreatic cancer that was unresectable but confined to the pancreatic region were treated with external-beam radiation (50.4 Gy in 28 fractions over 5.5 weeks) and weekly gemcitabine (250 mg m(-2), 30-min infusion). Maintenance gemcitabine (1000 mg m(-2) weekly x 3 every 4 weeks) was initiated 1 month after the completion of the chemoradiotherapy and continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Of the 42 patients, 38 (90%) completed the scheduled course of chemoradiotherapy. The major toxicity was leucopenia and anorexia. There was one death attributed to duodenal bleeding and sepsis. The median survival time was 9.5 months and the 1-year survival rate was 28%. The median progression-free survival time was 4.4 months. In 35 patients with documented disease progression at the time of analysis, 34 (97%) showed distant metastasis as the cause of the initial disease progression. The chemoradiotherapy used in this study has a moderate activity against locally advanced pancreatic cancer and an acceptable toxicity profile. Future investigations for treatment with more systemic effects are warranted.

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