Radiotherapy and continuous infusion 5-fluorouracil in patients with nonresectable pancreatic carcinoma

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2001 Nov 1;51(3):736-40. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(01)01708-4.


Purpose: The current standard local treatment for nonresectable pancreatic carcinoma is radiotherapy (RT) with concurrent 5-fluorouracil (5-FU); however, the optimal schedule for 5-FU administration has not been fully established. In this study, we report on our experience with the combination of RT and continuous infusion 5-FU in a group of patients with locally nonresectable pancreatic carcinoma.

Methods and materials: Forty-two patients with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas were enrolled in a prospective clinical trial. RT was delivered using a four-field technique to a total dose of 59.4 Gy in 33 fractions. 5-FU was given through a central venous catheter at a dose of 300 mg/m(2)/day, 7 d/wk, throughout the entire course of RT.

Results: All patients completed the RT as planned, and 33 (78%) completed the full regimen of chemotherapy. Ten patients (23%) had a partial response, and 32 (77%) had stable disease. Subjective response, defined as the disappearance of symptoms observed at diagnosis, was also evaluated. Two patients (6%) had a complete, and 24 (75%) a partial, remission of symptoms. The median time to progression was 6.2 months, and the median survival time was 9.1 months.

Conclusions: In terms of local control, the results of our study, with RT and protracted 5-FU infusion, compare well with those of other studies using RT and bolus 5-FU. The control of distant metastatic disease remains an open issue. However, the palliation of symptoms achieved by our treatment schedule in patients with a very poor prognosis and severe symptoms may be regarded as a positive result.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / radiotherapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiotherapy Dosage


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Fluorouracil