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Cancer. 2012 Jun 15;118(12):3026-35. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26633. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Long-term outcomes of neoadjuvant chemotherapy before chemoradiation for locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Neoadjuvant chemotherapy before chemoradiation therapy (CRT) may improve outcomes for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, but optimal management remains controversial, and prior reports have limited follow-up.


Seventy consecutive patients with unresectable (n = 46) or borderline resectable (n = 24) locally advanced pancreatic cancer were treated with CRT from 2005 to 2009. Patients typically received 50.4 grays in 28 fractions (91%) with concurrent 5-fluorouracil (84%) or capecitabine (14%). Forty patients received CRT alone, and 30 patients received neoadjuvant chemotherapy before CRT for a median of 4 months, typically gemcitabine (93%). All patients without progression after neoadjuvant chemotherapy were offered CRT.


Median follow-up was 14.2 months (range, 3-57 months). Fifty-three percent of patients in the CRT group versus 83% in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy before CRT group had unresectable tumors at diagnosis; after completion of CRT, 20% of patients in both groups underwent resection. Compared with CRT alone, the neoadjuvant chemotherapy before CRT group demonstrated improved median overall survival (OS; 18.7 vs 12.4 months; P = .02) and progression-free survival (11.4 vs 6.7 months; P = .02). On multivariate analysis, receipt of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.49; 95% CI, 0.28-0.87; P = .02) and surgical resection (adjusted HR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.17-0.85; P = .02) were associated with increased OS.


Gemcitabine-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy confers a significant OS advantage by allowing the selection of patients who will derive greatest benefit from CRT. Median survival with this approach was similar to that seen with surgical resection.

Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society.

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