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Oncologist. 2010;15(11):1205-13. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2010-0121. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

Current status of adjuvant therapy for pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


In this article, we review the rationale for and outcomes associated with the use of adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy for resectable and borderline resectable cancer of the pancreatic head and uncinate process. Localized pancreatic cancer is a systemic disease that requires nonoperative therapies to minimize the local and systemic recurrences that almost invariably occur in the absence of such therapy, even following complete surgical resection. A well-defined role exists for the systemic administration of gemcitabine or 5-fluorouracil in the postoperative setting. Although the survival benefit associated with adjuvant chemoradiation has not been as rigorously defined, its use is supported by extensive historic experience; chemoradiation should be considered particularly for patients at high risk for local recurrence. Delivery of chemotherapy and/or chemoradiation prior to surgery has multiple potential advantages, although the superiority of neoadjuvant therapy over standard postoperative therapy has yet to be demonstrated. Neoadjuvant therapy may be particularly beneficial among patients with borderline resectable cancers. Although the existing literature is confusing, and indeed controversial, available evidence suggests that systemic chemotherapy and/or chemoradiation should be offered to all patients with pancreatic cancer who undergo potentially curative resection. Well-designed prospective trials are needed to define the optimal adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapy strategy for these patients.

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