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Radiation before surgery improves pancreatic cancer outcomes
Date:11/25/2008

NEW YORK (Nov. 25, 2008) -- Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest and most difficult to treat cancers. Now, in a major step forward, researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have shown that administering radiation therapy prior to surgery nearly doubles survival in pancreatic cancer patients with operable tumors.

"Patients who received pre-surgical (neoadjuvant) radiation had almost double the overall survival compared with similar patients who didn't undergo radiation, and survived significantly longer than patients who received radiation after the tumor was removed," says the study's senior author, Dr. David Sherr, assistant professor of clinical radiation oncology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a radiation oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The findings are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

Pancreatic cancer remains the fifth deadliest malignancy in the United States, killing more than 32,000 Americans each year. It is typically not detected until it is already at an advanced stage when cure is rarely possible. In fact, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has been stalled at just 5 percent for the past 25 years.

Because pancreatic tumors have often spread or have directly invaded critical structures by the time they are detected, just 15 to 20 percent of patients are deemed suitable candidates for surgical removal (resection) of the tumor. And while post-operative radiotherapy has long been used to sterilize residual cancer cells that may not have been removed by surgery, the notion of using radiation before resection has been a controversial one.

"There are potential benefits to delivering radiation before surgery rather than after," Dr. Sherr notes. "Radiation might actually increase the number of people eligible for tumor resection, by shri
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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