Purpose of review
Pancreatic cancer will soon become one of the most common causes of cancer death. Early detection of pancreatic cancer remains impossible and only 20% of patients are suitable for surgery once diagnosed. Even in this specific subgroup of patients, and despite improvements in surgery, overall survival remains poor, with an 80% recurrence rate. Consequently, many attempts have been made to prevent recurrence by adding chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or both.
Here, we will focus on results of randomized trials evaluating the role of different postoperative treatments. Over 15 years ago, a trial demonstrated that chemoradiotherapy has a deleterious effect on survival. The same trial recommended adjuvant chemotherapy with fluorouracil as standard of care. Subsequent trials sought to identify better chemotherapy regimens. Two recently published trials evaluated the role of combination therapies for resected pancreatic cancer and demonstrated better outcomes with a gemcitabine and capecitabine combination and a fluorouracil, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan combination (FOLFIRINOX) versus gemcitabine alone.
Results from recent trials suggest that FOLFIRINOX should be considered standard of care for fit patients.