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Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2010 Feb;22(1):27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2009.09.024. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

Induction chemotherapy followed by chemoradiation in locally advanced pancreatic cancer: an effective and well-tolerated treatment.

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  • 1Clinical Oncology, Velindre Hospital, Cardiff, UK.



The treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer varies enormously both within the UK and internationally. Although chemoradiation is the treatment of choice in the USA, in the UK this modality is used infrequently because of concerns regarding both its efficacy and its toxicity. We reviewed our experience with induction chemotherapy and selective chemoradiation in an attempt to show that it is a well-tolerated treatment that may be superior to chemotherapy alone.


Case notes of patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer referred to the Velindre Cancer Centre between 1 March 2005 and 31 October 2007 were reviewed. Data on patient demographics, tumour characteristics, treatment and overall survival were collected retrospectively. Toxicity data during chemoradiation were collected prospectively. Patients who had non-progressive disease after 3 months of chemotherapy were planned for chemoradiation using three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy to a total dose of 4500-5040cGy in 25-28 daily fractions with gemcitabine as a radiosensitiser.


Of the 91 referrals, 69 (76%) were fit for active oncological treatment; 43/69 (62%) patients were considered for induction chemotherapy followed by chemoradiation and 16/43 (37%) patients received chemoradiation. The median overall survival for patients receiving primary chemotherapy (n=26) was 9.2 (6.8-11.9) months and was 15.3 (11.6-upper limit not reached) months for patients who received chemoradiation (n=16). During the induction chemotherapy 8/16 (50%) patients experienced grade 3/4 toxicity and there were five hospital admissions. During chemoradiation there were 6/16 (37.5%) cases of grade 3/4 toxicity and two hospital admissions. There were no treatment-related deaths. Overall, 94.5% of the intended radiotherapy dose and 84% of the concurrent chemotherapy dose was delivered.


In this UK network, about half of patients were considered for chemoradiation, but only 18% received it. Survival and treatment-related toxicity are consistent with data from other chemoradiation trials and in our series chemoradiation was tolerated better than chemotherapy alone. This supports the view that 'consolidation' chemoradiation is a viable treatment option that should be considered in selected patients with locally advanced non-metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Copyright (c) 2009 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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