The role of intraoperative therapy by electron beam and combination of adjuvant chemotherapy and external radiotherapy in carcinoma of the pancreas

V. Fossati, G. M. Cattaneo, A. Zerbi, L. Galli, G. Bordogna, M. Reni, D. Parolini, M. Carlucci, A. Bissi, C. Staudacher, V. Di Carlo, R. Calandrino

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Aims and background: In the treatment of pancreatic carcinomas, one modality is intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT). A study was carried out to assess the feasibility of IORT alone or in a multimodality approach with postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy and external radiotherapy and to compare local control and survival of patients. Another objective of this retrospective study was to verify prognostic factors in resected patients treated with IORT. Methods: From January 1985 through September 1992, 54 adenocarcinomas of the pancreas (unresectable and resected patients) were treated with IORT by electron beam at the San Raffaele Hospital and then analyzed. Comparison was also carried out between IORT-treated resected patients and a non-randomized control group of resected patients treated without IORT in the same period. Results: In unresectable patients treated by laparotomy bypass and IORT, overall median survival was 6 months and 8 months in non-metastatic patients. Relief of severe pain present in 14 patients was observed in 85% within 12 days of IORT. As regards resected patients, the most important finding was that significantly better local control resulted from IORT. In fact, overall, local relapses were 25% in the IORT group and 55.8% in the non-IORT group (control group); instead, survival of the IORT group was not significantly longer than that of the control group. From a statistical analysis of resected patients treated with IORT and performed on prognostic factors on the basis of available data, survival was significantly influenced by tumor pathologic grading and diameter; postoperative adjuvant therapy was not a significant prognosis factor. Conclusions: IORT has a role in local control of unresectable pancreatic carcinomas and in control of resultant severe pain. In resected patients, IORT is effective in decreasing local recurrences but has little impact on survival. To obtain more satisfactory results, new and more effective adjuvant therapies and better abdominal prophylaxis should be tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • carcinoma
  • IORT
  • pancreas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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