The role of adjuvant therapy for pancreatic cancer.
ABSTRACT Patients with pancreatic cancer have a very poor outlook. There have been major advances in the standard surgical treatment of this disease, resulting in decreased post-operative mortality and morbidity. The use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy has been developed to increase long-term patient survival following potentially curative resection. The standard chemotherapeutic agent is 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), although newer cytotoxic agents are in clinical trials for advanced cancer. Initial studies of adjuvant therapy have been based on small numbers of patients, but recently two large European randomised controlled trials of adjuvant therapy (EORTC and ESPAC-1) have been completed. These suggest that adjuvant chemotherapy has a significant survival advantage over resection alone but chemoradiotherapy does not. Promising new agents are being developed and tested mainly in clinical trials of advanced pancreatic cancer. The results of large-scale randomised controlled trials to assess adjuvant therapies for pancreatic cancer demonstrate the great surgical and oncological progress that has been made over the past decade.