Background: The benefit of adjuvant therapy for resected small bowel adenocarcinoma has not been proven. We undertook a retrospective analysis to evaluate the benefit of adjuvant therapy in a clearly defined patient population with curatively resected small bowel adenocarcinoma.
Material and methods: We identified 54 patients with small bowel adenocarcinoma who underwent margin-negative surgical resection and were evaluated after surgery at the University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1990 and 2008. Disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were estimated.
Results: Median age was 55 years and primary tumor site was duodenum in 67%, jejunum in 20%, and ileum in 13%. Thirty patients (56%) received adjuvant therapy consisting of systemic chemotherapy with or without radiation in 28 and radiation alone in two. Patients who received adjuvant therapy had significantly higher tumor stage and rate of lymph node involvement. Five-year DFS and OS did not differ between treatment groups. In multivariate analysis, the use of adjuvant therapy was associated with improved DFS (HR 0.27; 95% CI 0.07-0.98, P = 0.05) but not OS (HR 0.47; 95% CI 0.13-1.62, P = 0.23). In patients with a high risk of relapse (defined as a lymph node ratio >or=10%), adjuvant therapy appeared to improve OS, P = 0.04, but not DFS, P = 0.15.
Discussion: The use of adjuvant therapy for curatively resected small bowel adenocarcinoma was associated with an improvement in DFS. This finding strongly supports further investigation of adjuvant chemotherapy in this tumor type.