Original article|Articles in Press

No survival benefit with suboptimal CA19-9 response: defining effective neoadjuvant chemotherapy in resectable or borderline resectable pancreatic cancer

Published:February 02, 2023DOI:



      Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) is gaining popularity over a surgery-first (SF) approach in treating resectable and borderline resectable pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, what constitutes effective neoadjuvant chemotherapy is unknown.


      We retrospectively analyzed resectable and borderline resectable PDAC patients who underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy (2010–2019) at a single institution. Optimal CA19-9 response was defined as normalization AND >50% reduction. We utilized Kaplan-Meier and multivariable-adjusted Cox models and competing risk subdistribution methods for statistical analysis.


      586 patients were included in this study. The multivariable-adjusted analysis demonstrated OS benefit in the NAC group only when OS was calculated from diagnosis (HR = 0.72, p = 0.02), but not from surgery (HR = 0.81, p = 0.1). However, in 59 patients who achieved optimal CA19-9 response, OS is significantly longer than the 134 patients with suboptimal CA19-9 response (39.3 m vs. 21.5 m, p = 0.005) or the 117 SF patients (39.3 m vs. 19.5 m, p < 0.001). Notably, a suboptimal CA19-9 response conferred no OS advantage compared to SF patients. The accumulative incidence of liver metastases (but not other metastases) was significantly reduced only in patients with optimal CA19-9 response to NAC (multivariable-adjusted subdistribution HR = 0.26, p = 0.03).


      CA19-9 response to NAC may serve as the marker for effective NAC. These findings warrant validation in a multi-institutional study.
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