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Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Chemotherapy with or Without Definitive Radiation Therapy in Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer

Jim Zhong MD, Jeffrey Switchenko PhD, Madhusmita Behera PhD, David Kooby MD, Shishir K. Maithel MD, Mark W. McDonald MD, Jolinta Y. Lin MD, Richard J. Cassidy MD, Bassel El-Rayes MD, Jerome Landry MD, Pretesh R. Patel MD
Pancreatic Tumors
Volume 25, Issue 4 / April , 2018



The LAP07 randomized trial calls into question the role of radiation therapy (RT) in the modern treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC). However, advances in chemotherapy and RT limit application of the LAP07 results to current clinical practice. Here we utilize the National Cancer Database (NCDB) to evaluate the effects of RT in patients receiving chemotherapy for LAPC.


Using the NCDB, patients with American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) clinical stage T2–4, N0–1, M0 adenocarcinoma of the pancreas from 2004 to 2014 were analyzed. Patients were stratified into chemotherapy only (CT) and chemoradiation (CRT) cohorts. Patients undergoing definitive RT, defined as at least 20 fractions or ≥ 5 Gy per fraction [i.e., stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)] were included in the CRT cohort. Propensity-score matching (PSM) and landmark analysis were used to address selection bias and lead-time bias, respectively.


13,004 patients met inclusion criteria, of whom 7034 (54%) received CT and 5970 (46%) received CRT. After PSM, 5215 patients remained in each cohort. The CRT cohort demonstrated better overall survival (OS) compared with CT alone, with median and 1-year OS of 12 versus 10 months, and 50% and 41%, respectively (p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, CRT was associated with superior OS with hazard ratio of 0.79 (95% confidence interval 0.76–0.83) compared with CT alone.


In our series, addition of definitive radiotherapy to CT was associated with better OS when compared with CT alone in LAPC. Definitive radiotherapy should remain a treatment option for LAPC, but optimal selection criteria remain unclear.

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