Article Abstract

Stereotactic body radiotherapy for locally-advanced unresectable pancreatic cancer—patterns of care and overall survival

Authors: Michael J. Dohopolski, Scott M. Glaser, John A. Vargo, Goundappa K. Balasubramani, Sushil Beriwal


Background: Unresectable pancreatic cancer remains a challenging disease to treat. Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) allows for a higher biologically equivalent dose in an abbreviated course more convenient for patients and the integration of systemic therapy. We sought to investigate utilization trends and survival outcomes for patients treated with pancreatic SBRT versus conventionally fractionated radiotherapy (CFRT).
Methods: We engaged the National Cancer Database (NCDB) from 1998–2012 and identified locally-advanced unresectable patients with histologically confirmed, non-metastatic, pancreatic adenocarcinoma who received radiotherapy. Patients who received CFRT (1.5–4.0 Gy per fraction to a dose of ≥45 Gy, n=11,879) were compared to those who received SBRT (6–15 Gy per fraction to a dose of ≥20 Gy, n=474).
Results: Median follow-up was 11.0 months (18.4 months for survivors). SBRT utilization increased from 0.2% to 7.4% from 1998 to 2012 (P<0.05). On multivariable analysis, factors predictive for preferential utilization of SBRT over CFRT were later year of diagnosis, age ≥75 years, increased facility volume, and no chemotherapy in the initial treatment plan. Unadjusted median survival was 11.2 months for CFRT vs. 12.6 months for SBRT (P=0.002). Results were consistent in the propensity matched model. Variables predictive for improved survival on multivariable analysis were diagnosis after 2010, younger age, lower comorbidity score, tumor size <3 cm, nodal stage zero, and receipt of chemotherapy (P<0.05).
Conclusions: SBRT utilization has increased significantly and is associated with a small absolute improvement in overall survival (OS) compared to CFRT. The decreased treatment time, without apparent compromise in survival, makes SBRT an attractive option for patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer warranting further research.