Neoadjuvant therapy is increasingly used for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). It is unknown whether neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy is more effective than chemotherapy (NCRT vs. NAC). We aim to compare pathological and survival outcomes of NCRT and NAC in patients with PDAC.
Single-center analysis of PDAC patients treated with NCRT or NAC followed by resection between December 2008 and December 2018 was performed. Average treatment effect (ATE) was estimated after case-control matching using Mahalanobis distance nearest-neighbor matching. Inverse probability weighted estimates (IPWE)-based ATE was estimated for disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).
Among the 418 patients (mean age 66.8 years, 51% female) included in the study, 327 received NAC and 91 received NCRT. NCRT patients had higher rates of locally advanced disease, number of neoadjuvant chemotherapy cycles, more chemotherapy regimen crossover (gemcitabine and 5-FU based), and were more likely to undergo open surgical procedures and/or vascular resection (all p < 0.05). After matched analysis, NCRT was associated with a significant reduction in lymph node positive disease [ATE = (-)0.24, p = 0.007] and lymphovascular invasion [ATE = (-)0.20, p = 0.02]. While NCRT was associated with significantly improved DFS by 9.5 months (p = 0.006), it did not affect OS by IPWE-based ATE after adjusting for adjuvant therapy (ATE = 5.5 months; p = 0.32).
Compared with NAC alone, NCRT is associated with improved pathologic surrogates and disease-free survival, but not overall survival in patients with PDAC.