Post-Op Chemo Delays Pancreatic Cancer Recurrence

Mean disease-free survival increased by six months, but no effect on overall survival

TUESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Postoperative gemcitabine therapy significantly delays the recurrence of pancreatic cancer compared to observation only, although it does not increase survival, according to a report in the Jan. 17 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Helmut Oettle, M.D., Ph.D., of Charite School of Medicine in Berlin, Germany, and colleagues conducted a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial to determine if adjuvant chemotherapy with gemcitabine after resection of pancreatic cancer improves disease-free survival by at least six months compared with standard treatment.

In the study, 179 patients were randomized to gemcitabine while 175 patients were designated to observation only, the current standard of care. During a median follow-up of 4.5 years, recurrent cancer developed in 74.3 percent of the gemcitabine group and 92 percent of the control group. Estimated mean disease-free survival increased from 6.9 months for observation only to 13.4 months for the gemcitabine group.

No difference in overall survival was found, however, prompting Al Benson III, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, to write in an accompanying editorial: "Worldwide, there is a need to move away from the question of current chemotherapy agents versus chemoradiation to a research focus based on enhancing understanding of biologic principles."

Some of the authors of the original report have received compensation or funding from various pharmaceutical companies.

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