Study Suggests a Role for Radiotherapy for Extending the Lives of Pancreatic Cancer Patients

According to research presented at the 36th annual European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO) conference, patients with early stage pancreatic cancer could live longer if they receive radiotherapy at a high enough dose.

This research is very promising, recognizing the poor outcome associated with standard treatment of pancreatic cancer, which affects around 338,000 people worldwide annually.

In this study, 514 patients from Europe and the U.S., who were diagnosed when their tumors had not spread and could be removed by surgery, were analyzed.  Following surgery, all patients were treated with chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy, divided into four groups according to the dose of radiation they received and followed for an average of 20 months.

The results suggested the higher the dose, the longer the patient lived.  Patients who received a dose less than 45 Gy had an average survival of 13 months, as compared with the highest dose group of 55Gy or more, in which, average survival was 28 months.

Dr. Francesco Cellini, who presented the research said, “Previous research has not shown a benefit for treating pancreatic cancer with radiotherapy, suggesting that these tumors are somehow resistant to radiation, but this study suggests the situation is more nuanced.  We have found that the higher the dose, the longer the patient is likely to survive.  This may indicate that the doses were simply not high enough in previous research.  This study suggests radiotherapy should be considered for patients with early stage pancreatic cancer.  It may also be worthwhile to investigate whether current radiotherapy techniques could also bring survival benefits to patients with more advanced tumors.”

Illinois CyberKnife treats pancreatic tumors with stereotactic radiosurgery using the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.  During treatment, high doses of radiation are delivered to the tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy.  Treatments are painless, require no anesthesia or hospital stay, and there is little to no recovery time.  For more information on CyberKnife technology, or to make an appointment with Illinois CyberKnife, please click here.