Gemcitabine significantly delays the recurrence of cancer for patients following pancreatic cancer surgery, according to a study in the January 17 issue of JAMA.

It is estimated that there are 232,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer per year and is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S. Surgery is the only curative treatment option however prognosis is poor.

Helmut Oettle, M.D., Ph.D., of Charite School of Medicine, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Berlin, Germany, and colleagues conducted a study (CONKO-001) comparing use of the drug gemcitabine with no anticancer drug therapy in 368 patients who had undergone complete resection of pancreatic cancer (July 1988 to December 2004) at 88 oncology centers in Germany and Austria.

Patients received chemotherapy with gemcitabine (n = 179), or no chemotherapy (observation; [control, n = 175]). During a median 4.5 year follow-up, recurrent cancer developed in 74.3 percent in the gemcitabine group and 92 percent in the control group.

Estimated median disease-free survival was 13.4 months in the gemcitabine group compared with 6.9 months in the control group. Estimated disease-free survival at 3 and 5 years was 23.5 percent and 16.5 percent in the gemcitabine group, and 7.5 percent and 5.5 percent in the control group, respectively with no difference in overall survival between the groups.

The authors concluded that adjuvant treatment with gemcitabine has minimal toxicity and offers a potential for prolonged disease-free survival in certain pancreatic cancers.

Sources:

AMA Media Release

Adjuvant Chemotherapy With Gemcitabine vs Observation in Patients Undergoing Curative-Intent Resection of Pancreatic Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2007;297:267-277.

About the Author

Jeanne Bohm, Ph.D. is a cancer biologist by training, a medical writer and an experienced science educator.

The author has no financial relationship to any of the companies listed in the article.

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Topics #Chemotherapy #Pancreatic Cancer #Pancreatic Cancer Surgery