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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Nov 15;72(4):1128-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.02.065. Epub 2008 Jun 4.

Neoadjuvant radiation is associated with improved survival in patients with resectable pancreatic cancer: an analysis of data from the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results (SEER) registry.

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  • 1Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, New York, NY, USA.



Cancer of the exocrine pancreas is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Neoadjuvant chemoradiation has been investigated in several trials as a strategy for downstaging locally advanced disease to resectability. The aim of the present study is to examine the effect of neoadjuvant radiation therapy (RT) vs. other treatments on long-term survival for patients with resectable pancreatic cancer in a large population-based sample group.


The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry database (1994-2003) was queried for cases of surgically resected pancreatic cancer. Retrospective analysis was performed. The endpoint of the study was overall survival.


Using Kaplan-Meier analysis we found that the median overall survival of patients receiving neoadjuvant RT was 23 months vs. 12 months with no RT and 17 months with adjuvant RT. Using Cox regression and controlling for independent covariates (age, sex, stage, grade, and year of diagnosis), we found that neoadjuvant RT results in significantly higher rates of survival than other treatments (hazard ratio [HR], 0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.38-0.79; p = 0.001). Specifically comparing adjuvant with neoadjuvant RT, we found a significantly lower HR for death in patients receiving neoadjuvant RT rather than adjuvant RT (HR, 0.63; 95% confidence interval, 0.45-0.90; p = 0.03).


This analysis of SEER data showed a survival benefit for the use of neoadjuvant RT over surgery alone or surgery with adjuvant RT in treating pancreatic cancer. Therapeutic strategies that use neoadjuvant RT should be further explored for patients with resectable pancreatic cancer.

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