Purpose: The role of systemic chemotherapy in the management of pancreatic endocrine carcinoma (islet cell carcinoma; PEC) is an area of considerable controversy. Response rates ranging from 6% to 69% have been reported for streptozocin-based chemotherapy. We retrospectively studied 84 patients with locally advanced or metastatic PEC who had been treated with fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and streptozocin (FAS) to determine the objective response rate, duration of progression-free survival (PFS), and duration of overall survival (OS).
Patients and methods: Eligible patients had histologic or cytologic confirmation of their tumor and measurable disease on computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scans. Response to treatment was evaluated in this study using the new international criteria proposed by the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors Committee.
Results: Sixty-one of the patients were male and 23 were female, with a median age of 54 years (range, 24 to 78 years). The response rate (RR) to FAS was 39%, with a median response duration of 9.3 months. The 2-year PFS rate was 41%, and the 2-year OS rate was 74%. The extent of liver metastatic disease correlated with a worse PFS (P = .01 by log-rank test) and a worse OS (P < .0001 by log-rank test). Analyses showed that metastatic replacement of more than 75% of the liver and prior chemotherapy were independently associated with inferior PFS.
Conclusion: Patients with locally advanced or metastatic PEC who are treated with FAS may have a reasonable RR, and responders may experience longer PFS and OS. The volume of metastases in the liver is the most important predictor of outcome.