Purpose: Fractionated radiotherapy and chemotherapy for locally advanced pancreatic cancer achieves only modest local control. This prospective trial evaluated the efficacy of a single fraction of 25 Gy stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) delivered between Cycle 1 and 2 of gemcitabine chemotherapy.
Methods and materials: A total of 16 patients with locally advanced, nonmetastatic, pancreatic adenocarcinoma received gemcitabine with SBRT delivered 2 weeks after completion of the first cycle. Gemcitabine was resumed 2 weeks after SBRT and was continued until progression or dose-limiting toxicity. The gross tumor volume, with a 2-3-mm margin, was treated in a single 25-Gy fraction by Cyberknife. Patients were evaluated at 4-6 weeks, 10-12 weeks, and every 3 months after SBRT.
Results: All 16 patients completed SBRT. A median of four cycles (range one to nine) of chemotherapy was delivered. Three patients (19%) developed local disease progression at 14, 16, and 21 months after SBRT. The median survival was 11.4 months, with 50% of patients alive at 1 year. Patients with normal carbohydrate antigen (CA)19-9 levels either at diagnosis or after Cyberknife SBRT had longer survival (p <0.01). Acute gastrointestinal toxicity was mild, with 2 cases of Grade 2 (13%) and 1 of Grade 3 (6%) toxicity. Late gastrointestinal toxicity was more common, with five ulcers (Grade 2), one duodenal stenosis (Grade 3), and one duodenal perforation (Grade 4). A trend toward increased duodenal volumes radiated was observed in those experiencing late effects (p = 0.13).
Conclusion: SBRT with gemcitabine resulted in comparable survival to conventional chemoradiotherapy and good local control. However, the rate of duodenal ulcer development was significant.