Background: This study was designed to examine the effect of adjuvant 5-FU-based chemoradiation therapy (CRT) after distal pancreatectomy for adenocarcinoma of the distal pancreas. Methods: All patients underwent curative resection for adenocarcinoma of the distal pancreas between December 1985 and June 2006. Patients who received adjuvant CRT were compared with those who underwent surgery alone. A Kaplan-Meier estimate of the survival curve was used to determine estimates of the median survival and proportion alive at 1 and 2 years; log-rank tests were used to make comparisons between groups. Results: A total of 123 patients underwent distal pancreatectomy; 29 patients were excluded for distant metastases at the time of surgery (n = 12, 10%) or before adjuvant therapy (n = 11, 9%), death within 2 months of surgery (n = 2, 2%), or if CRT treatment status was unknown (n = 4, 3%). Of the remaining 94 patients, 72% received adjuvant 5-FU-based CRT and 28% underwent surgery alone. Overall median survival was 16.2 (95% confidence interval (CI), 13.1-18.9) months. The groups were similar with respect to tumor size, nodal status, and margin status. There was no significant difference in overall survival between patients treated with adjuvant CRT versus surgery alone (p = 0.23). An exploratory subgroup analysis suggested a potential survival benefit of adjuvant CRT in patients with lymph node metastases (16.7 vs. 12.1 months, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Adjuvant CRT did not increase survival compared with surgery alone; however, patients with node-positive disease appear to benefit from adjuvant CRT.
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