Use of Machine-Learning Algorithms in Intensified Preoperative Therapy of Pancreatic Cancer to Predict Individual Risk of Relapse

Cancers (Basel). 2019 Apr 30;11(5):606. doi: 10.3390/cancers11050606.


Background: Although surgical resection is the only potentially curative treatment for pancreatic cancer (PC), long-term outcomes of this treatment remain poor. The aim of this study is to describe the feasibility of a neoadjuvant treatment with induction polychemotherapy (IPCT) followed by chemoradiation (CRT) in resectable PC, and to develop a machine-learning algorithm to predict risk of relapse.

Methods: Forty patients with resectable PC treated in our institution with IPCT (based on mFOLFOXIRI, GEMOX or GEMOXEL) followed by CRT (50 Gy and concurrent Capecitabine) were retrospectively analyzed. Additionally, clinical, pathological and analytical data were collected in order to perform a 2-year relapse-risk predictive population model using machine-learning techniques.

Results: A R0 resection was achieved in 90% of the patients. After a median follow-up of 33.5 months, median progression-free survival (PFS) was 18 months and median overall survival (OS) was 39 months. The 3 and 5-year actuarial PFS were 43.8% and 32.3%, respectively. The 3 and 5-year actuarial OS were 51.5% and 34.8%, respectively. Forty-percent of grade 3-4 IPCT toxicity, and 29.7% of grade 3 CRT toxicity were reported. Considering the use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factors, the number of resected lymph nodes, the presence of perineural invasion and the surgical margin status, a logistic regression algorithm predicted the individual 2-year relapse-risk with an accuracy of 0.71 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.56-0.84, p = 0.005). The model-predicted outcome matched 64% of the observed outcomes in an external dataset.

Conclusion: An intensified multimodal neoadjuvant approach (IPCT + CRT) in resectable PC is feasible, with an encouraging long-term outcome. Machine-learning algorithms might be a useful tool to predict individual risk of relapse. A small sample size and therapy heterogeneity remain as potential limitations.

Keywords: machine-learning; model-based prediction; neoadjuvant chemoradiation; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; pancreatic; resectable.