The advantages of neoadjuvant (preoperative) chemoradiation therapy for pancreatic cancer include the assurance that all resected patients receive multimodality therapy; the opportunity for patients with occult metastatic disease to manifest themselves; and the potential to improve resectability. Since 1994, Duke University Medical Center has treated over 180 patients with localized pancreatic cancer using neoadjuvant 5-fluorouracil(5FU)-based chemoradiation therapy (CRT). Approximately 20% of patients demonstrate distant disease progression during CRT and avoid the morbidity of laparotomy. Almost 20% of locally advanced tumors on initial-staging CT can be resected following CRT. Patients who have successfully undergone resection have experienced favorable survival with an estimated 5-year survival rate of 36%. This article reviews the authors' experience and the lessons learned from it.
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