Article Abstract

Treatment of pancreatic cancer—neoadjuvant treatment in borderline resectable/locally advanced pancreatic cancer

Authors: Florian Scheufele, Daniel Hartmann, Helmut Friess


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is currently ranked fourth place of cancer related mortality. Only a minority of 10–20% of patients with PDAC have a primarily resectable disease, while 50–60% of the patients are diagnosed with irresectable disease. A certain group of patients is defined as “borderline resectable”, which is mainly relied to contact of the tumor to major abdominal vessels. For preoperative evaluation of resectability CT and MRI is commonly used. Although CT-scanning, which is the standard preoperative imaging modality, has striking limitations concerning evaluation of lymph node status as well as vessel involvement and approximately 20% of the patients are staged incorrectly. A central part of modern therapy of locally advanced or not primarily resectable PDAC is neoadjuvant therapy. Especially neoadjuvant chemotherapy according to the FOLFIRINOX protocol resulted in high resection rates of initially not resectable patients. Furthermore, treatment with FOLFIRINOX was shown to be an independent predictor of improved prognosis and resection after neoadjuvant treatment with FOLFIRINOX was associated with improved survival. Neoadjuvant treatment was able to increases the rates of R0 resection, which depicts an independent prognostic factor and FOLFIRINOX outmatched other treatment regimes (e.g., gemcitabine-based radio-chemotherapy) concerning achievement of a R0 resection. While most evidence of neoadjuvant treatment of PDAC is conferred by retrospective analysis, there is growing data from randomized controlled trials, confirming the beneficial effects of neoadjuvant therapy on the prognosis of PDAC. Thus, patients with borderline resectable and locally advanced PDAC should be evaluated for neoadjuvant treatment. If there is no progression of the disease during neoadjuvant treatment exploration with the goal of R0 resection should be performed. If possible, patients should be included in well-designed randomized controlled trials at specialized pancreatic centers.