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.