A systematic review of resectability and survival after concurrent chemoradiation in primarily unresectable pancreatic cancer

Ann Surg Oncol. 2010 Jan;17(1):194-205. doi: 10.1245/s10434-009-0762-4. Epub 2009 Oct 24.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to determine the effect on resection rate and survival of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for primarily unresectable locally advanced pancreatic carcinoma.

Methods: A systematic review of recently published literature was performed. Resection rates and survival data were derived from reports published from 2000 onwards. Only recent studies, based on radiotherapy with standard dose and fractionation, have been analyzed.

Results: Thirteen studies with a total of 510 patients met selection criteria. A resection rate of 8.3-64.2% was reported (median, 26.5%). Of the operated patients, 57.1-100% (median, 87.5%) had R0 tumor resection. Most papers reported occasional pathological complete responses (CR, 3.0-8.8%). When outcome in all patients was considered, median survival ranged from 9 to 23 (median, 13.3) months, comparing favorably with literature data based on concurrent chemoradiation alone (range, 8.6-13 months). Surprisingly, in patients with unresectable tumor at presentation, median survival after surgery ranged from 16.4 to 32.3 (median, 23.6) months.

Conclusions: The finding of a high proportion of R0 resection among all resections performed confirms the activity of neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy and should not be neglected. Based on these data, patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer without disease progression after chemoradiotherapy should be considered for radical surgery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Survival Rate