Background A well-defined treatment strategy for elderly patients with resectable pancreatic cancer is lacking. Multiple reports have described highly selected older cancer patients who have successfully undergone pancreatectomy. However, multimodality therapy is essential for long-term survival, and elderly patients are at high risk for not receiving adjuvant therapy postoperatively. We sought to describe the treatment patterns and outcomes of a series of elderly patients with pancreatic cancer who were treated with a multimodality strategy that liberally used neoadjuvant therapy. Study Design We retrospectively reviewed treatment plans, short-term outcomes, and overall survival of all patients 70 years old and older, presenting to our institution over a 9-year period, who were treated for potentially resectable or borderline resectable pancreatic cancer. Results There were 179 (76%) of 236 patients treated with curative intent. Of these patients, 153 (85%) initiated neoadjuvant therapy: 74 (48%) subsequently underwent pancreatectomy and 79 did not due to disease progression (n = 46), insufficient performance status (n = 23), or other reasons (n = 10). Eleven (42%) of 26 patients who underwent surgery first received postoperative therapy. Among patients treated with curative intent, the median overall survival of all patients initiating neoadjuvant therapy (16.6 months [range 2.1 to 142.7 months]) was similar to that of patients undergoing resection primarily (15.1 months [range 5.4 to 100.8 months]), p = 0.53. After pancreatectomy, patients had a 2% in-hospital mortality rate and 91% were discharged home. Conclusions Eighty-five percent of all patients 70 years old and older, who underwent pancreatectomy for potentially resectable or borderline resectable pancreatic cancer, received multimodality therapy. More than 90% were discharged home. These data demonstrate a potential role for neoadjuvant therapy in selecting elderly patients for surgery, and support further studies to refine individualized treatment protocols for this high-risk population.
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