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Ann Oncol. 2012 Nov;23(11):2820-7. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mds109. Epub 2012 May 9.

Neoadjuvant cetuximab, twice-weekly gemcitabine, and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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  • 1Section Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.



Neoadjuvant therapy has been investigated for localized and locally advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) but no standard of care exists. Combination cetuximab/gemcitabine/radiotherapy demonstrates encouraging preclinical activity in PDAC. We investigated cetuximab with twice-weekly gemcitabine and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) as neoadjuvant therapy in patients with localized or locally advanced PDAC.


Treatment consisted of cetuximab load at 400 mg/m(2) followed by cetuximab 250 mg/m(2) weekly and gemcitabine 50 mg/m(2) twice-weekly given concurrently with IMRT to 54 Gy. Following therapy, patients were considered for resection.


Thirty-seven patients were enrolled with 33 assessable for response. Ten patients (30%) manifested partial response and 20 (61%) manifested stable disease by RECIST. Twenty-five patients (76%) underwent resection, including 18/23 previously borderline and 3/6 previously unresectable tumors. Twenty-three (92%) of these had negative surgical margins. Pathology revealed that 24% of resected tumors had grade III/IV tumor kill, including two pathological complete responses (8%). Median survival was 24.3 months in resected patients. Outcome did not vary by epidermal growth factor receptor status.


Neoadjuvant therapy with cetuximab/gemcitabine/IMRT is tolerable and active in PDAC. Margin-negative resection rates are high and some locally advanced tumors can be downstaged to allow for complete resection with encouraging survival. Pathological complete responses can occur. This combination warrants further investigation.

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