Is there a standard of care for the management of advanced pancreatic cancer?. Highlights from the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symp

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JOP. 2008 Mar 8;9(2):91-8.

Is there a standard of care for the management of advanced pancreatic cancer?. Highlights from the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Orlando, FL, USA. January 25-27, 2008.



Yale Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine. New Haven, CT, USA. wasif.saif@yale.edu

Despite advances in our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of pancreatic cancer, the outcome for this disease remains dismal. Gemcitabine, the standard chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, offers modest improvement of tumor-related symptoms and marginal advantage of survival. Many chemotherapeutic and targeted agents have been pitted against or combined with gemcitabine in randomized phase III trials and no drug was shown to be superior to single-agent gemcitabine except two gemcitabine-containing combinations: capecitabine plus gemcitabine vs. gemcitabine and erlotinib. In this article, the author debates: "Is there a standard of care for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer?". In addition, he summarizes the key studies presented at the "Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium" held in Orlando, FL, USA on January 25-27, 2008. The studies discussed here include the following: i) a phase I study of a chemotherapy doublet gemcitabine plus capecitabine, combined with a biologic doublet (bevacizumab plus erlotinib) in patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma (abstract #141); ii) a phase II study of gemcitabine, bevacizumab, and erlotinib in locally advanced and metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (abstract #151); iii) final results of the multicenter phase II study on gemcitabine, capecitabine, and bevacizumab in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (abstract #198); iv) interim results from a phase II study of volociximab in combination with gemcitabine in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer (abstract #142); v) a pilot study of combination chemotherapy with S-1 and irinotecan for advanced pancreatic cancer (abstract #155); vi) a multicenter phase II study of gemcitabine and S-1 combination chemotherapy in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer (abstract #212); vii) a phase I/II study of PHY906 plus capecitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic carcinoma (abstract #260); and viii) the final results of a phase II trial of Genexol-PM(R), a novel cremophor-free, polymeric micelle formulation of paclitaxel in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (abstract #269). Based on the results presented at the meeting, it comes to us that patients with locally advanced vs. metastatic pancreatic cancer should be studied separately, better understanding of the biology of pancreatic cancer is mandatory and evaluation of novel agents is crucial. We, as oncologist, have to change our attitudes towards clinical trials and need to think beyond a trial design such as gemcitabine vs. drug of our choice.