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Anticancer Res. 2009 Dec;29(12):5211-7.

Biweekly gemcitabine (GEM) in combination with erlotinib (ERL): an active and convenient regimen for advanced pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1First Department of Medical Oncology, St. Savvas Anticancer Hospital, Athens, Greece.



Pancreatic cancer remains a disease of high mortality and one of the most frustrating, resistant solid neoplasms to treat. The aim of this study was to evaluate a biweekly gemcitabine plus daily erlotinib regimen in patients with advanced (stage III-IV) pancreatic cancer in terms of overall survival and time to progression of the disease. The secondary aim was to record treatment related toxicities.


Twenty-seven patients with metastatic non-operable pancreatic adenocarcinoma, stage III-IV, consented to receive chemotherapy with gemcitabine and erlotinib. Patients received first-line treatment with gemcitabine (2 g/m(2) via 90 min i.v. infusion every two weeks) and 100 mg erlotinib per os every day, for at least 12 consecutive courses (6 cycles). Treatment was discontinued at disease progression and/or serious toxicity.


The objective response rate was 25.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11.1-46.3%) and the stable disease rate was 59.3% (95% CI: 38.8-77.6%). The one-year overall survival was 20%. The median overall survival and time to progression at the time of assessment was 7.5 months (95% CI: 3.6-42 months) and 5.5 months (95% CI: 1.5-10 months), respectively. Overall survival and time to progression were related to response (p<0.001), while time to progression was further related to disease stage (p=0.011). No grade 4 haematological or non-haematological toxicities were observed.


The biweekly regimen of gemcitabine plus erlotinib has similar toxicity and efficacy to weekly administration, presenting both patients and hospital resource departments with a clearly more convenient therapy alternative.

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