Purpose: Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNTs) are rare malignant neoplasms considered to be resistant to radiotherapy (RT), although data on efficacy are scarce. We reviewed our institutional experience to further delineate the role of RT for patients with PNTs.
Methods and materials: Between 1986 and 2006, 36 patients with PNTs were treated with RT to 49 sites. Of these 36 patients, 23 had radiographic follow-up data, which were used to determine the tumor response rate and freedom from local progression. Long-term toxicity was graded according to the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events.
Results: The overall response rate to RT was 39% (13% complete response, 26% partial response, 56% stable disease, and 4% progressive disease). A significant difference in the freedom from local progression between the groups receiving either greater than or less than the median 2 Gy/fraction biologically equivalent dose of 49.6 Gy was found, with all radiographic progression occurring in patients who had received <or=32 Gy. The actuarial 3-year local freedom from progression rate was 49%. Palliation was achieved in 90% of patients, with either improvement or resolution of symptoms after RT. Of 35 patients, 33 had metastatic disease at their referral for RT, and the median overall survival for this patient population was 2 years. Three long-term Grade 3 or greater toxicities were recorded.
Conclusion: RT is an effective modality for achieving local control in patients with PNTs. RT produces high rates of symptomatic palliation and freedom from local progression. Prospective trials of radiotherapy for PNTs are warranted.