NYUCI’s pancreatic cancer research focuses on all stages of disease, including neoadjuvant therapy of locally unresectable disease.
Patients who have cancer that has not spread to distant sites, but is initially thought to be inoperable because it involves key blood vessels in the pancreatic region, are treated preoperatively with chemotherapy and radiation in order to control growth and attempt to shrink the tumor. NYU investigators began to study this approach in 1997 using a chemoradiation program involving initial chemotherapy followed by radiation with additional chemotherapy (gemcitabine and cisplatin).
Patients are monitored for the possibility of resection, often undergoing minimally invasive laparoscopic explorations to determine if they are candidates for attempt at resection.
Results of this initial trial have been presented and published at national meetings. A follow-up study to this initial study using a similar treatment algorithm is now in progress. The current study combines radiation with 5FU as a radiation sensitizer and weekly oxaliplatin. Patients are carefully staged and followed with minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques to evaluate progress and assess for those who might be resectable.
Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer have received leading-edge therapy through NYU’s NCI-sponsored phase II trial using gemcitabine, Avastin (an anti-angiogenesis antibody) with an epidermal growth receptor inhibitor (Erbitux or Tarceva). The promising results of this study have prompted researchers to continue investigating gemcitabine with 2 oral targeted agents, tarceva and sorafenib. Phase I trials of these agents are now available for patients previously treated with gemcitabine.