Purpose: The present phase III study was designed to investigate the noninferiority of S-1 alone and superiority of gemcitabine plus S-1 compared with gemcitabine alone with respect to overall survival.
Patients and methods: The participants were chemotherapy-naive patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. Patients were randomly assigned to receive only gemcitabine (1,000 mg/m(2) on days 1, 8, and 15 of a 28-day cycle), only S-1 (80, 100, or 120 mg/d according to body-surface area on days 1 through 28 of a 42-day cycle), or gemcitabine plus S-1 (gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m(2) on days 1 and 8 plus S-1 60, 80, or 100 mg/d according to body-surface area on days 1 through 14 of a 21-day cycle).
Results: In the total of 834 enrolled patients, median overall survival was 8.8 months in the gemcitabine group, 9.7 months in the S-1 group, and 10.1 months in the gemcitabine plus S-1 group. The noninferiority of S-1 to gemcitabine was demonstrated (hazard ratio, 0.96; 97.5% CI, 0.78 to 1.18; P < .001 for noninferiority), whereas the superiority of gemcitabine plus S-1 was not (hazard ratio, 0.88; 97.5% CI, 0.71 to 1.08; P = .15). All treatments were generally well tolerated, although hematologic and GI toxicities were more severe in the gemcitabine plus S-1 group than in the gemcitabine group.
Conclusion: Monotherapy with S-1 demonstrated noninferiority to gemcitabine in overall survival with good tolerability and presents a convenient oral alternative for locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00498225.