Radiation treatment reduces pancreatic cancer recurrence

5 Jan 2016

Radiation therapy was associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence in pancreatic cancer surgery patients, making it, like chemotherapy, an important addition to treatment, Mayo Clinic research found.

Whether radiotherapy helps patients after pancreatic cancer surgery has been a long-standing question, and the findings suggest that it does, says senior author Christopher Hallemeier, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Radiotherapy led to longer survival times

The researchers studied 458 patients who had pancreatic cancer surgery at Mayo Clinic between March 1987 and January 2011. Of those patients, 378 received chemotherapy and radiation therapy after surgery, and 80 had only chemotherapy after their operations. The analysis of the results revealed that:

  • 80% of those who received chemotherapy and radiation after surgery had no recurrence of cancer within the area targeted by the radiation, the tumor bed and lymph nodes, within five years after diagnosis. That compared with 68% of those who had chemotherapy only following their operations.
  • Patients who received radiotherapy had longer survival times.

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Radiation treatment: part of a tailored approach

“The role of radiation therapy in operable pancreatic cancer has been somewhat controversial. There have been some studies that have shown a benefit and some studies that have not shown a benefit,” Dr. Hallemeier says. “Our large study suggests that adding radiation treatment in combination with surgery and chemotherapy reduces the rate of cancer recurrence.”

Dr. Hallemeier added that: “With tailored approaches to treatment before surgery, for example using chemotherapy first to see how the tumor responds, and then selectively using radiation, I think we can personalize treatment for patients who are most likely to benefit.”

 

Source: Mayo Clinic
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