Despite our improved understanding of pancreatic cancer biology and ability to perform more complex pancreatic cancer surgeries that produce better short-term outcomes, major progress toward increasing survival times has been painstakingly slow. Through the often-repeated, dismal survival statistics, it is easy to lose sight of real progress that has been made in pancreatic cancer therapy. It is particularly interesting to observe the extent to which these advances are interdependent and the effects they have had on practice. For example, during the past 5-10 years, we have seen widespread adoption of pancreatic imaging protocols that allow for objectively defined criteria of resectability. This has led to the definition of "borderline resectable pancreatic cancer"--a new clinical category that has affected the design of clinical trials. A major change in our surgical approach has been the move to minimally invasive pancreatectomy, which continues to gain broader acceptance and use, particularly for left-sided lesions. Although many new agents have been developed aimed at putative molecular targets, recent breakthroughs in therapy for advanced disease have arisen from our ability to safely give patients combination cytotoxic chemotherapy. We are now faced with the challenge of combining multidrug, cytotoxic chemotherapies with newer-generation agents. Ultimately, the hope is that drug combinations will be selected based on biomarkers, and strategies for pancreatic cancer therapy will be personalized, which could prolong patients' lives and reduce toxicity. We review the major advances in pancreatic cancer therapy during the last 5 years, and discuss how these have set the stage for greater progress in the near future.
Copyright © 2013 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.