Pancreatic Cancer: Short Course Radiation May Benefit Elderly Patients Interview with: Dr. Raphael Yechieli
Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Yechieli:  The main findings of the study are that elderly patients with pancreatic cancer who also have significant co-morbidities can still be safely and effectively treated with a short course of radiation treatment. Furthermore, the local control and survival data from our study are similar to previously published data, where patients were treated with more intense and longer courses of treatment. Where any of the findings surprising?

Dr. Yechieli:  It was surprising to see the two patients with relatively long-term survival, of greater than 23 months, especially since these patients were so ill to begin with. A few patients were found to have metastatic cancer at their first follow-up CT scan – approximately six weeks after treatment – further supporting the use of a short-course of radiation treatment; putting a patient through six weeks of chemoradiotherapy in the setting of likely metastatic disease is not necessarily in the patient’s best interest. What should patients and providers take away from this report:

Dr. Yechieli:  This study shows that for carefully selected patients with localized pancreatic cancer, even in the setting of severe co-morbid illness, the local tumor can be aggressively palliated to prevent the local growth and destruction common with this type of tumor. Physicians should recognize that age is not necessarily a barrier to providing the care needed to palliate this disease. What further research do you recommend as a result of this study:

Dr. Yechieli:  We must study the quality-of-life effects of this treatment for our patients, and more importantly, the patient reported quality-of-life outcomes of this treatment. As this treatment is meant to be a form of aggressive palliation, the improvement in QOL becomes the most important endpoint to study.


Stereotactic body radiotherapy for elderly with pancreatic cancer

The study was presented at the 55nd annual American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) meeting in Atlanta 2013

Last Updated on September 26, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD