Is postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy useful for gallbladder carcinoma? A phase III multicenter prospective randomized controlled trial in patients with resected pancreaticobiliary carcinoma

Cancer. 2002 Oct 15;95(8):1685-95. doi: 10.1002/cncr.10831.


Background: To the authors' knowledge, the significance of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in pancreaticobiliary carcinoma has not yet been clarified. A randomized controlled study evaluated the effect of postoperative adjuvant therapy with mitomycin C (MMC) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) (MF arm) versus surgery alone (control arm) on survival and disease-free survival (DFS) for each specific disease comprising resected pancreaticobiliary carcinoma (pancreatic, gallbladder, bile duct, or ampulla of Vater carcinoma) separately.

Methods: Between April 1986 and June 1992, a total of 508 patients with resected pancreatic (n = 173), bile duct (n = 139), gallbladder (n = 140), or ampulla of Vater (n = 56) carcinomas were allocated randomly to either the MF group or the control group. The MF group received MMC (6 mg/m(2) intravenously [i.v.]) at the time of surgery and 5-FU (310 mg/m(2) i.v.) in 2 courses of treatment for 5 consecutive days during postoperative Weeks 1 and 3, followed by 5-FU (100 mg/m(2)orally) daily from postoperative Week 5 until disease recurrence. All patients were followed for 5 years.

Results: After ineligible patients were excluded, 158 patients with pancreatic carcinoma (81 in the MF group and 77 in the control group), 118 patients with bile duct carcinoma (58 in the MF group and 60 in the control group), 112 patients with gallbladder carcinoma (69 in the MF group and 43 in the control group), and 48 patients with carcinoma of the ampulla of Vater (24 in the MF group and 24 in the control group) were evaluated. Good compliance (> 80%) was achieved with MF treatment. The 5-year survival rate in gallbladder carcinoma patients was significantly better in the MF group (26.0%) compared with the control group (14.4%) (P = 0.0367). Similarly, the 5-year DFS rate of patients with gallbladder carcinoma was 20.3% in the MF group, which was significantly higher than the 11.6% DFS rate reported in the control group (P = 0.0210). Significant improvement in body weight compared with the control was observed only in patients with gallbladder carcinoma. There were no apparent differences in 5-year survival and 5-year DFS rates between patients with pancreatic, bile duct, or ampulla of Vater carcinomas. Multivariate analyses demonstrated a tendency for the MF group to have a lower risk of mortality (risk ratio of 0.654; P = 0.0825) and recurrence (risk ratio of 0.626; P = 0.0589). The most commonly reported adverse drug reactions were anorexia, nausea/emesis, stomatitis, and leukopenia, none of which were noted to be serious.

Conclusions: The results of the current study indicate that gallbladder carcinoma patients who undergo noncurative resections may derive some benefit from systemic chemotherapy. However, alternative modalities must be developed for patients with carcinomas of the pancreas, bile duct, or ampulla of Vater.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Common Bile Duct Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Common Bile Duct Neoplasms / pathology
  • Common Bile Duct Neoplasms / surgery
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitomycins / administration & dosage
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery


  • Mitomycins
  • Fluorouracil

Supplementary concepts

  • FuMi protocol