Review and current state of radiation therapy for locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma
Pancreatic cancer is characterized by a high rate of metastatic spread and overall poor prognosis. Yet 30% of patients have progressive local disease at the time of death, and local progression can cause significant morbidity. Approximately 30–40% of patients present with locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) that is not surgically resectable, and the optimal treatment for these patients continues to evolve. The role of radiation in the management of LAPC is an area of controversy, and the recent LAP07 randomized trial reported no survival benefit of radiation following gemcitabine plus or minus erlotinib. However, the efficacy of modern systemic regimens has improved since the design of the LAP07 study, and radiation therapy may be of greater benefit in the context of more effective systemic therapy. Advances in radiation delivery including the increasing use of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) have the potential to improve outcomes through dose escalation and better treatment tolerability. In addition, the combination of radiation therapy and immune therapy is an area of promising research. These advances suggest that radiation therapy will continue to play an integral role in the management of LAPC.