Neoadjuvant therapy has the potential to induce regression of high-risk, locally advanced cancers and render them resectable. Preoperative chemoradiotherapy is proposed as a testable treatment concept for locally advanced pancreatic cancer.
Fourteen patients (8 men, 6 women) with locally advanced pancreatic cancer were surgically explored to exclude distant spread of disease, to perform bypass of biliary and/or gastric obstruction, and to provide a jejunostomy feeding tube for long-term nutritional support. A course of chemotherapy with fluorouracil and cisplatin plus radiotherapy was then initiated. Reexploration and resection were planned subsequent to neoadjuvant therapy.
Main Outcome Measures
Tumor regression and survival.
Surgically staged patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer were treated by preoperative chemotherapy with bolus fluorouracil, 400 mg/m2, on days 1 through 3 and 28 through 30 accompanied by a 3-day infusion of cisplatin, 25 mg m2, on days 1 through 3 and 28 through 30 and concurrent radiotherapy, 45 Gy. Enteral nutritional support was maintained via jejunostomy tube.
Of 14 patients who enrolled in the protocol and were initially surgically explored, 3 refused the second operation and 11 were reexplored; 2 showed progressive disease and were unresectable and 9 (81%) had definitive resection. Surgical pathologic stages of the resected patients were: Ib (2 patients), II (2 patients), and III (5 patients). Pancreatic resection included standard Whipple resection in 1 patient, resection of body and neck in 1 patient, and extended resection in 6 patients (portal vein resection in 6, arterial resection in 4). One patient who was considered too frail for resection had core biopsies of the pancreatic head, node dissection, and an interstitial implant of the tumorous head. Pathologic response: 2 patients had apparent complete pathologic response; 1 patient had no residual cancer in the pancreatectomy specimen, the other patient who had an iridium 192 interstitial implant had normal core biopsies of the pancreatic head. Five patients had minimal residual cancer in the resected pancreas or microscopic foci only with extensive fibrosis, and 2 patients had fully viable residual cancer. Lymph node downstaging occurred in 2 of 4 patients who had positive peripancreatic nodes at the initial surgical staging. There was 1 postoperative death at 10 days. Sepsis, prolonged ileus, and failure to thrive were major complications. In the definitive surgery group the median survival was 19 months after beginning chemoradiotherapy and 16 months after definitive surgery. The absolute 5-year survival was 11% of 9 patients, 1 is surviving 96 months (with no evidence of disease) after chemoradiotherapy and extended pancreatic resection including resection of the superior mesenteric artery and the portal vein for stage III cancer. In the nonresected group the mean survival was 9 months (survial range, 7-12 months) after initiation of chemoradiotherapy.
A pilot study of preoperative chemoradiotherapy with infusional cisplatin and radiation induced a high rate of clinical pathologic response in patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer and merits further study in these high-risk patients.