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Ann Surg Oncol. 2006 Feb;13(2):150-8. Epub 2006 Jan 19.

A multi-institutional phase II trial of preoperative full-dose gemcitabine and concurrent radiation for patients with potentially resectable pancreatic carcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Surgical Oncology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 201 E. Huron, Galter 10-105, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.



We report the results of a multi-institutional phase II trial that used preoperative full-dose gemcitabine and radiotherapy for patients with potentially resectable pancreatic carcinoma.


Patients were treated before surgery with three cycles of full-dose gemcitabine (1000 mg/m2 intravenously), with radiation during the second cycle (36 Gy in daily 2.4-Gy fractions). Patients underwent surgery 4 to 6 weeks after the last gemcitabine infusion.


There were 10 men and 10 women, with a median age of 58 years (range, 50-80 years). Nineteen patients (95%) completed therapy without interruption, and one experienced grade 3 gastrointestinal toxicity. The mean weight loss after therapy was 4.0%. Of 20 patients taken to surgery, 17 (85%) underwent resections (16 pancreaticoduodenectomies and 1 distal pancreatectomy). The complication rate was 24%, with an average length of stay of 13.5 days. There were no operative deaths. Pathologic analysis revealed clear margins in 16 (94%) of 17 and uninvolved lymph nodes in 11 (65%) of 17 specimens. One specimen contained no residual tumor, and three specimens revealed only microscopic foci of residual disease. With a median follow-up of 18 months, 7 (41%) of the 17 patients with resected disease are alive with no recurrence, 3 (18%) are alive with distant metastases, and 7 (41%) have died.


Preoperative gemcitabine/radiotherapy is well tolerated and safe when delivered in a multi-institutional setting. This protocol had a high rate of subsequent resection, with acceptable morbidity. The high rate of negative margins and uninvolved nodes suggests a significant tumor response. Preliminary survival data are encouraging. This regimen should be considered in future neoadjuvant trials for pancreatic cancer.

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