In western countries, carcinoma of the pancreas remains the most lethal of the common malignancies. Even the favorable "organ-confined" tumors present a considerable challenge. The lack of anatomic barriers to local infiltration and the biological propensity for early lymphatic, perineural, and vascular invasion are nearly insurmountable obstacles to complete surgical eradication of this malignancy. Various combinations of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (RT) have been used with marginal but measurable success. Earlier trials conducted by the Gastrointestinal Tumor Study Group established roles for 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy and RT in the treatment of patients with resectable or locally advanced pancreatic cancer. More recently, computed tomography-guided conformal RT and a variety of intraoperative RT techniques have enabled more reliable sterilization of the local surgical field and escalation of doses to potentially curative levels (7000 cGy) for unresectable lesions. Chemotherapy dose intensification through the use of portable programmable pumps for protracted venous infusions and the development of active systemic agents in addition to 5-fluorouracil suggest that an effective combination chemotherapeutic regimen might soon be developed. This report reviews the current standards of practice and integrates recent developments to construct a modern algorithm for the use of chemoradiotherapy in the management of localized (nonmetastatic) pancreatic cancer. The likely directions of future investigations are also discussed.
View details for Web of Science ID 000078475800023
View details for PubMedID 10030424