Background: The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among patients with cancer has been previously reported. Because vitamin D is fat soluble, patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma may have an especially high risk of vitamin D deficiency in association with ongoing and varying degrees of malabsorption. However, little is known about the correlation between vitamin D status and prognosis in these patients.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of vitamin D status in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma who were treated at Siteman Cancer Center. Patients' demographic information, clinical staging at the time of vitamin D assessment, vitamin D levels, and survival data were collected. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) level of less than 20 ng/mL, and vitamin D insufficiency was defined as a 25(OH)D level of between 20 ng/mL and 30 ng/mL.
Results: Between December 2007 and June 2011, 178 patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma had their vitamin D levels checked at the time of initial visit at this center. Of these 178 patients, 87 (49%) had vitamin D deficiency, and 44 (25%) had vitamin D insufficiency. The median 25(OH)D level was significantly lower among nonwhite patients and among patients with stage I and II disease. A 25(OH)D level of less than 20 ng/mL was found to be associated with poor prognosis (p = 0.0019) in patients with stage III and IV disease.
Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency were prevalent among patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The vitamin D level appears to be prognostic for patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and its effects should be further examined in a prospective study.