Patients with carcinoma of the exocrine pancreas have especially poor prognosis with a five-year survival rate of < 1% and a median survival of 4-6 months. Pancreatic carcinoma is a systemic disease, insensitive to radiotherapy and mostly to chemotherapy. Accordingly, new treatment modalities are worth being investigated. One of the promising approaches is immunotherapy. Several phase I/II trials that have been published show interesting results, whereupon antibody-based strategies seem to fail and unspecific stimulation or vaccination with peptides look encouraging. Furthermore, phase II trials dealing with combination therapies are highly promising. One of them, a combination of chemoradiotherapy plus interferon-alpha is currently tested in a randomized phase III trial. As most of the trials had enrolled only limited numbers of patients and most of the trials were not conducted and/or reported according to the new standards it is difficult to draw final conclusions from the discussed trials. Immuno-monitoring was performed only in 40% of the discussed publications. In all cases immune responses were observed and correlation with the clinical outcome is discussed. Immunotherapy of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and especially combination therapies including immunotherapy is an up-and-coming approach and needs to be investigated in well conducted phase III randomized controlled trials accompanied by appropriate immunomonitoring.
Keywords: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma, immunotherapy, Interferon-alpha, vaccination, chemoimmunotherapy, chemoradioimmunotherapy
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport