Does chemotherapy improve health-related quality of life in advanced pancreatic cancer? A systematic review

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016 Mar;99:286-98. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2016.01.006. Epub 2016 Jan 15.


Chemotherapy is increasingly being used in advanced pancreatic cancer, but side-effects are common. The aim of this systematic review was to assess whether chemotherapy improves health-related quality of life (HRQoL), pain or cachexia. Thirty studies were reviewed. Four of 23 studies evaluating HRQoL, 7 of 24 studies evaluating pain and 0 of 8 studies evaluating cachexia found differences between treatment arms. Change in HRQoL from baseline was evaluated in 14 studies: five studies reported an improvement in at least one treatment arm; three a worsening and the remaining stable scores. Change in pain intensity from baseline was evaluated in eight studies, and improvement was observed in seven. Of the four studies reporting improved survival, three reported improved HRQoL or pain. In conclusion, chemotherapy can stabilize HRQoL and improve pain control. Effects on cachexia are hard to elucidate. Improved survival does not come at the expense of HRQoL or pain control.

Keywords: Cachexia; Chemotherapy; Pain; Pancreatic Cancer; Quality of Life; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Quality of Life*


  • Antineoplastic Agents