© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
May 14, 2005The first phase III clinical trial to test adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy after surgery) with gemcitabine (Gemzar) for people with operable pancreatic cancer (cancer that can be surgically removed) shows that this treatment nearly doubles the amount of time it takes for the cancer to return.Before this study, there was not enough information to know whether adjuvant chemotherapy helped delay the return of pancreatic cancer."Adjuvant therapy with gemcitabine among patients with operable pancreatic cancer may prove to be a very important option for these patients," said senior investigator Hanno Riess, MD, Professor of Medicine at the CharitÃ© University Medical School in Berlin, Germany.In this study, researchers compared 179 patients with operable pancreatic cancer who received six months of treatment with gemcitabine (starting within six weeks of surgery) with 177 patients who did not receive gemcitabine and were observed following surgery. It took nearly twice as long for the cancer to return in the patients receiving gemcitabine (14.2 months) than in those who did not receive gemcitabine (7.5 months). The side effects of gemcitabine were mild to moderate, the most common being low white blood cell count in 8.4% of patients.What this means for patientsGemcitabine is already used to treat people with inoperable pancreatic cancer, and this study shows that adjuvant chemotherapy with gemcitabine can delay the return of cancer for people with operable pancreatic cancer. However, data on the effect of gemcitabine on survival are still needed from this study before this treatment can be recommended. Patients are encouraged to talk to their doctors for more information.