KRAS mutation in metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma: results of a multicenter phase II study evaluating efficacy of cetuximab plus gemcitabine/oxaliplatin (GEMOXCET) in first-line therapy

Oncology. 2011;81(1):3-8. doi: 10.1159/000330194. Epub 2011 Sep 2.


Background: Genetic alterations within the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway, including KRAS mutations, have been demonstrated to be associated with response to EGFR inhibitors like cetuximab in colorectal cancers. Mutations in the KRAS gene have been found in 70-90% of pancreatic cancers. Unfortunately, the addition of cetuximab to chemotherapy did not increase response or survival in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in phase II and phase III studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between KRAS mutations and response or survival in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer treated with cetuximab plus chemotherapy.

Methods: Within a multicenter phase II trial, 64 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer were treated with cetuximab in combination with gemcitabine and oxaliplatin until disease progression. Analyses of the EGFR pathway, including KRAS mutations, could be performed in 25 patients. Analyses were carried out following microdissection of the tumor.

Results: Fourteen (56%) of the 25 patients examined harbored a point mutation in codon 12 of the KRAS gene. No differences between the groups were noted in median progression-free survival (104 days in KRAS wild-type patients vs. 118 days in patients with KRAS mutations). Overall survival was longer in wild-type patients compared to patients with KRAS mutations (263 vs. 162 days), but the difference did not reach statistical significance. A further analysis of our clinical phase II trial showed that the presence of a rash was significantly correlated with overall survival.

Conclusions: KRAS mutation in codon 12 may be associated with reduced survival compared to KRAS wild type. The role of KRAS mutations for cetuximab therapy in pancreatic cancer warrants further investigation in larger trials to exclude an epiphenomenon. Furthermore, the development of a rash is indicative of clinical benefit.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / secondary
  • Cetuximab
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins
  • Cetuximab