Only 10% to 20% of patients with pancreatic cancer are considered candidates for curative resection at the time of diagnosis. We postulated that preoperative chemoradiation therapy might promote tumor regression, eradicate nodal metastases, and allow for definitive surgical resection in marginally resectable patients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of a preoperative chemoradiation therapy regimen on tumor response, resectability, and local control among patients with marginally resectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas and to report potential treatment-related toxicity. Patients with marginally resectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (defined as portal vein, superior mesenteric vein, or artery involvement) were eligible for this protocol. Patients received 50.4 to 56 Gy in 1.8 to 2.0 Gy/day fractions with concurrent protracted venous infusion of 5-fluorouracil (250 mg/m2/day). Reevaluation for surgical resection occurred 4 to 6 weeks after therapy. Fifteen patients (9 men and 6 women) completed preoperative chemoradiation without interruption. One patient required a reduction in the dosage of 5-fluorouracil because of stomatitis. Acute toxicity from chemoradiation consisted of grade 1 or 2 nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomatitis, palmar and plantar erythrodysesthesia, and hematologic suppression. CA 19-9 levels declined in all nine of the patients with elevated pretreatment levels. Nine of the 15 patients underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy, and all had uninvolved surgical margins. Two of these patients had a complete pathologic response, and two had microscopic involvement of a single lymph node. With a median follow-up of 30 months, the median survival for resected patients was 30 months, whereas in the unresected group median survival was 8 months. Six of the nine patients who underwent resection remain alive and disease free with follow-up of 12, 30, 30, 34, 39, and 72 months, respectively. Preoperative chemoradiation therapy is well tolerated. It may downstage tumors, sterilize regional lymph nodes, and improve resectability in patients with marginally resectable pancreatic cancer. Greater patient accrual and longer follow-up are needed to more accurately assess its future role in therapy.
View details for Web of Science ID 000167919800010
View details for PubMedID 11309645