, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 155-165
Date: 22 Jan 2013

Adjuvant Pharmacotherapy in the Management of Elderly Patients with Pancreatic Cancer

Abstract

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth or fifth leading cause of death from cancer in Western industrialized countries. Surgical resection is the only chance of cure, but only 15–20 % of cases are potentially resectable at presentation, and despite complete resection, the overall prognosis remains relatively poor. Adjuvant therapy has modestly improved cure rates. The majority of patients with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 65 years. But this age group is underrepresented within clinical trials, and it is unknown whether older patients achieve similar results to younger ones in terms of survival and treatment tolerance. In addition, there are no clinical trials dedicated to the elderly. Retrospective studies coming from the non-resectable setting provide some understanding on outcomes in older patients with PDAC. To date, we can reasonably argue that selected elderly patients with PDAC can benefit from curative surgery and postoperative chemotherapy as do their younger counterparts, without a significant increase in morbidity and mortality. Gemcitabine should be preferred to 5-fluorouracil on the basis of a better risk–benefit balance.