Aim: To assess whether gemcitabine-based combination therapy improves the prognosis of unresectable pancreatic cancer compared with gemcitabine treatment alone.
Methods: A quantitative up-to-date meta-analysis was undertaken to investigate the efficacy of gemcitabine-based combination treatment compared with gemcitabine monotherapy in locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. Inclusion was limited to high-quality randomized clinical trials.
Results: Twenty-six studies were included in the present analysis, with a total of 8808 patients recruited. The studies were divided into four subgroups based on the different kinds of cytotoxic agents, including platinum, fluoropyrimidine, camptothecin and targeted agents. Patients treated with gemcitabine monotherapy had significantly lower objective response rate [risk ratio (RR), 0.72; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.63-0.83; P < 0.001], and lower 1-year overall survival (RR, 0.90; 95%CI: 0.82-0.99; P = 0.04). Gemcitabine monotherapy caused fewer complications, including fewer grade 3-4 toxicities: including vomiting (RR, 0.75; 95%CI: 0.62-0.89; P = 0.001), diarrhea (RR, 0.66; 95%CI: 0.49-0.89; P = 0.006), neutropenia (RR, 0.88; 95%CI: 0.72-1.06; P = 0.18), anemia (RR, 0.96; 95%CI: 0.82-1.12; P = 0.60), and thrombocytopenia (RR, 0.76; 95%CI: 0.60-0.97; P = 0.03) compared with gemcitabine combination therapies.
Conclusion: Gemcitabine combination therapy provides a modest improvement of survival, but is associated with more toxicity compared with gemcitabine monotherapy.
Keywords: Combination therapy; Gemcitabine; Meta-analysis; Outcome; Pancreatic cancer.