Adjuvant therapy for pancreatic cancer: a review

Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;112(2):243-9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23174.


Pancreatic cancer is uniformly fatal unless it can be surgically resected. Survival rates for the 15% to 20% of patients who have resectable disease, however, are a disappointing 10% to 30%, depending on the status of margins and surrounding lymph nodes. In the mid-1980s, a landmark study by the Gastrointestinal Tumor Study Group was the first to demonstrate a survival benefit from adjuvant therapy in the form of chemoradiation. Since then, several studies in both North America and Europe have tested the role of adjuvant chemotherapy or chemoradiation in pancreatic cancer, and the results have stirred great controversy. For this review, the evidence for adjuvant therapy in pancreatic cancer was examined, and the significant practice differences that exist between North American and European oncologists were highlighted. The authors investigated the results from the European Study Group for Pancreatic Cancer-1 trial and the reasons why that study has served to reinforce rather than resolve these trans-Atlantic differences. They also reviewed preliminary data from more recent adjuvant trials and explored the possible benefits of a neoadjuvant approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Survival Rate