Surgery versus radiochemotherapy for resectable locally invasive pancreatic cancer: final results of a randomized multi-institutional trial

Surg Today. 2008;38(11):1021-8. doi: 10.1007/s00595-007-3745-8. Epub 2008 Oct 29.


Purpose: Although the outcome of surgery for locally advanced pancreatic cancer remains poor, it is improving, with 5-year survival up to about 10% in Japan. The preliminary results of our multi-institutional randomized controlled trial revealed better survival after surgery than after radiochemotherapy. We report the final results of this study after 5 years of follow-up.

Methods: Patients with preoperative findings of pancreatic cancer invading the pancreatic capsule without involvement of the superior mesenteric or common hepatic arteries, or distant metastasis, were included in this randomized controlled trial, with their consent. If the laparotomy findings were consistent with these criteria, the patient was randomized to a surgery group or a radiochemotherapy group (5-fluorouracil 200 mg/m2/day and 5040 Gy radiotherapy). We compared the mean survival time, 3-and 5-year survival rates, and hazard ratio.

Results: The surgery and radiochemotherapy groups comprised 20 and 22 patients, respectively. Patients were followed up for 5 years or longer, or until an event occurred to preclude this. The surgery group had significantly better survival than the radiochemotherapy group (P<0.03). Surgery increased the survival time and 3-year survival rate by an average of 11.8 months and 20%, respectively, and it halved the instantaneous mortality (hazard) rate.

Conclusion: Locally invasive pancreatic cancer without distant metastases or major arterial invasion is treated most effectively by surgical resection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Fluorouracil