Alliance for clinical trials in oncology (ALLIANCE) trial A021501: preoperative extended chemotherapy vs. chemotherapy plus hypofractionated radiation therapy for borderline resectable adenocarcinoma of the head of the pancreas

BMC Cancer. 2017 Jul 27;17(1):505. doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3441-z.


Background: Borderline resectable pancreatic cancers infiltrate into adjacent vascular structures to an extent that makes an R0 resection unlikely when pancreatectomy is performed de novo. In a pilot study, Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Trial A021101, the median survival of patients who received chemotherapy and radiation prior to anticipated pancreatectomy was 22 months, and 64% of operations achieved an R0 resection. However, the individual contributions of preoperative chemotherapy and radiation therapy to therapeutic outcome remain poorly defined.

Methods: In Alliance for Clinical Oncology Trial A021501, a recently activated randomized phase II trial, patients (N = 134) with a CT or MRI showing a biopsy-confirmed pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma that meets centrally-reviewed anatomic criteria for borderline resectable disease will be randomized to receive either 8 cycles of modified FOLFIRINOX (oxaliplatin 85 mg/m2, irinotecan 180 mg/m2, leucovorin 400 mg/m2 and infusional 5-fluorouracil 2400 mg/m2 over 2 days for 4 cycles) or to 7 cycles of modified FOLFIRINOX followed by stereotactic body radiation therapy (33-40 Gy in 5 fractions). Patients without evidence of disease progression following preoperative therapy will undergo pancreatectomy and will subsequently receive 4 cycles of postoperative modified FOLFOX6 (oxaliplatin 85 mg/m2, leucovorin 400 mg/m2, bolus 5-fluorouracil 400 mg/m2, and infusional 5-fluorouracil 2400 mg/m2 over 2 days for 4 cycles). The primary endpoint is the 18-month overall survival rate of patients enrolled into each of the two treatment arms. An interim analysis of the R0 resection rate within each arm will be conducted to assess treatment futility after accrual of 30 patients. Secondary endpoints include rates of margin-negative resection and event-free survival. The primary analysis will compare the 18-month overall survival rate of each arm to a historical control rate of 50%. The trial is activated nationwide and eligible to be opened for accrual at any National Clinical Trials Network cooperative group member site.

Discussion: This study will help define standard preoperative treatment regimens for borderline resectable pancreatic cancer and position the superior arm for further evaluation in future phase III trials.

Trial registration: : NCT02839343 , registered July 14, 2016.

Keywords: Borderline resectable; Chemotherapy; Clinical trial; Pancreatic cancer; Pancreatoduodenectomy; Radiation; Stereotactic.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Camptothecin / administration & dosage
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Irinotecan
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiation Dose Hypofractionation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Irinotecan
  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Camptothecin

Associated data