Multi-institutional phase I study of low-dose ultra-fractionated radiotherapy as a chemosensitizer for gemcitabine and erlotinib in patients with locally advanced or limited metastatic pancreatic cancer.

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PURPOSE: Gemcitabine (G) has been shown to sensitize pancreatic cancer to radiotherapy but requires lower doses of G and thus delays aggressive systemic treatment, potentially leading to distant failure. We initiated a phase I trial combining ultra-fractionated low-dose radiotherapy with full dose G and erlotinib in the treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

METHODS: Patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer confined to the abdomen and an ECOG performance status (PS) of 0-1 who had received 0-1 prior regimens (without G or E) and no prior radiotherapy were eligible. Patients were treated in 21 day cycles with G IV days 1 & 8, E once PO QD, and twice daily RT fractions separated by at least 4h on days 1, 2, 8, and 9. Whole abdominal RT fields were used. Primary endpoint was to define dose limiting toxicity (DLT) and the maximum tolerated dose (MTD).

RESULTS: 27 patients (median age 64 years and 15 male) were enrolled between 11/24/08 and 4/12/12. 1 patient withdrew consent prior to receiving any protocol therapy. 17 patients had a PS of 1. The majority of patients were stage IV. One DLT was noted out of 7 patients at dose level (DL) 1. Subsequently no DLTs were noted in 3 patients each enrolled at DL2-4 or 11 patients in the expansion cohort. The majority of grade 3 toxicities were hematologic with 1 grade 5 bowel perforation in dose level 1 in cycle 4. Best response in 24 evaluable patients: PR (8), stable (15), PD 1. Median survival for the entire group was 9.1 months.

CONCLUSION: This phase I study combining low-dose ultra-fractionated RT as a sensitizer to full dose G plus E was well tolerated with encouraging efficacy. This represents a novel strategy worthy of further investigation in advanced pancreatic cancer patients.

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Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology





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