Background: Low resectability rate and high locoregional recurrence are major factors contributing to the failure of surgical treatment for localized pancreatic adenocarcinoma. A Phase II study involving preoperative 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and mitomycin C and radiation therapy was evaluated.
Methods: Thirty-one patients with biopsy-proven carcinoma (24, head of pancreas; 2, body; 5 duodenum) were treated with preoperative radiation therapy, 5040 cGy (180 cGy/fraction, 5 days/week), concurrent with 5-FU, 1000 mg/m2/day continuous infusion (days 2-5, 28-32) and mitomycin C 10 mg/m2 bolus (day 2). Ten patients had previous laparotomy or bypass surgery and were deemed unresectable; 21 had percutaneous, endoscopic retrograde choleangiopancreatic, or transhepatic stent biopsies.
Results: Toxicity included neutropenic fever (2 patients), biliary sepsis (2 patients), and nausea and vomiting requiring total parenteral nutrition. One patient died of biliary sepsis before completion of chemoradiation and 11 patients showed evidence of metastatic disease (clinical or occult). Resectability rate was 38% (10/26) for pancreatic carcinoma and 80% (4/5) for duodenal carcinoma. Pathology of the resected specimens revealed extensive necrosis and hyalinization with clear margins in all cases. Lymph node metastases were found in one case of pancreatic carcinoma. The four resected duodenal carcinomas contained no residual tumor in the specimens. At a median follow-up of 29 months, the median survival time for those with pancreatic carcinoma was not yet reached in the resection group and was 8 months in the nonresection group. The corresponding actuarial 5-year survival rates were 58% and 0%, respectively.
Conclusions: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy was given safely to patients with pancreatic and duodenal carcinoma. It facilitated complete resection in 38% of patients with pancreatic carcinoma and 80% of those with duodenal carcinoma. A significant downstaging of positive margins and regional lymph nodes occurs as a result of preoperative chemoradiation.