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Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2010 Apr;10(4):529-40. doi: 10.1586/era.10.21.

Evolution of systemic therapy for advanced pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, 5-708, 610 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 2M9, Canada.


The prognosis for advanced pancreatic cancer remains poor and successful drug development in this disease continues to be a major challenge. In the last decade the approach to drug development in pancreatic cancer has included a focus on combinations of cytotoxic agents. While some promising results were seen in Phase II studies, none of the Phase III trials of cytotoxic combinations were able to demonstrate an improvement in overall survival over that seen with the single-agent gemcitabine. Newer studies have assessed the efficacy of 'targeted' agents that inhibit pathways thought to be important in the development, growth, invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer. Although some agents had promising activity in preclinical studies, none has made a major impact in the clinic. There has been some success with the addition of the EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib to gemcitabine, which was the first combination to achieve an overall survival benefit compared with gemcitabine alone in a Phase III trial. Future directions for drug development in pancreatic cancer will mainly involve testing new targeted agents, although some cytotoxic combinations are currently in Phase III testing. There is a need to better understand the biology of the disease and incorporate this into trials in an attempt to search for predictive and prognostic markers that will aid in drug development. Control of pancreatic cancer will require combinations of targeted agents, probably individualized based on tumor genetics. We are just beginning to explore the efficacy of combining targeted agents in the clinic.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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