Resection versus Palliation: Treatment of Stage III and IVA Carcinomas of the Pancreas Employing Intraoperative Radiation
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Whether advanced pancreatic carcinomas should be surgically removed has been a basic issue because performing an extended resection is futile if it has only a minimum impact on survival. The purpose of this study was to compare the results of pancreatic resection with those of a bypass operation for patients with stage III or IVA pancreatic carcinomas while applying intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). The therapeutic outcomes of 132 patients who had received IORT for stage III or IVA carcinoma were analyzed retrospectively. The patients were divided into two groups: Group 1 included 68 patients with locally unresectable tumors who underwent a bypass operation; group 2 included 64 patients with resectable tumors who underwent pancreatic resection. Postoperative external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) was also delivered to 90 patients. Multivariate analysis indicated that strong independent predictors of increased survival were EBRT for group 1 (p < 0.0001) and R0 resection for group 2 (p = 0.017). Twenty patients who had been subjected to R0 resection showed the best survival, with a 3-year survival rate of 45%. The survival of group 1 patients receiving EBRT (n = 47) nearly equaled that of group 2 patients undergoing R1 or R2 resection (n = 44) (p = 0.72); but group 1 patients with tumors ≤ 6 cm (n = 31) had a better survival rate than group 2 patients with tumors > 3 cm (n = 28) (p = 0.03). We concluded that postoperative EBRT is essential for improving the survival outcome, even after administering IORT. Patients with stage III lesions undergoing an R0 resection and receiving IORT demonstrated an excellent 3-year survival. A bypass operation plus IORT in combination with EBRT is preferred over IORT used as an adjuvant to R1 or R2 resection.
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