Identification of Educational Gaps Among Oncologists Who Manage Patients with Pancreatic Cancer



Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is associated with poor outcomes and presents oncologists with a myriad of clinical challenges. This study was conducted to assess oncologists’ practice patterns and to identify the greatest areas of need for future PDA continuing medical education (CME) programs.


Case vignettes have been validated as an effective tool to assess how physicians approach and treat a wide array of diseases. In order to assess practice patterns for resectable, locally advanced unresectable, and metastatic PDA, an online case vignette survey was distributed to practicing medical oncologists.


Responses from 150 US-practicing oncologists were analyzed, and several key opportunities for future CME programs were identified. For case 1 (patient with resectable PDA), 44% of oncologists did not select an evidence-based adjuvant chemotherapy regimen. For case 2 (patient with locally advanced PDA who develops metastases and neuropathy after first-line nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine followed by chemoradiation), 57% of oncologists did not select an evidence-based second-line chemotherapy regimen, and 35% selected a regimen containing oxaliplatin, a chemotherapeutic known to cause neuropathy. For case 3 (patient with a pancreatic mass and liver metastases), only 34% of oncologists recommended a biopsy, chest imaging, and liver function tests which should be standard of care assessments with this presentation. For all three cases, clinical trial referral was selected by fewer than 5% of respondents.


This study identified appreciable discrepancies between oncologists’ recommendations and standard evidence-based guidelines. Well-designed CME programs may help to bridge the educational gaps identified and improve adherence to practice guidelines.

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This study was financially supported by Celgene Corporation and conducted independently by CE Outcomes. J Emarine and P Merwin are both employees of Celgene and own stock in the corporation.

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Correspondence to Justin A. Barnes.

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All remaining authors have no conflicts to disclose.

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Barnes, J.A., Ellis, M.L., Hwang, S. et al. Identification of Educational Gaps Among Oncologists Who Manage Patients with Pancreatic Cancer. J Gastrointest Canc 50, 84–90 (2019).

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  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Educational needs assessment
  • Medical oncologist
  • Survey