ROCHESTER, Minn. — 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. The study is published in the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.
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.
Eighty percent 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 percent of those who had chemotherapy only following their operations. Additionally, patients who received radiotherapy had longer survival times.
Over the past five years or so, the trend has been toward providing chemotherapy and radiation before surgery in an increasing number of patients with operable pancreatic cancer, Dr. Hallemeier says. He and his colleagues plan research to study the benefit of that, but first wanted to address the longtime question of whether radiation helps after surgery.
“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.
Media contact: Sharon Theimer in Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005 or email@example.com