Effect of adjuvant chemotherapy after pancreatectomy in patients with node-negative pancreatic cancer: target trial emulation

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BACKGROUND: The effect of adjuvant therapy in node-negative pancreatic cancer is uncertain. The aim of this study was to estimate the effect of adjuvant chemotherapy on survival after surgery for pancreatic cancer in patients with node-negative (pN0) and node-positive (pN+) disease using target trial emulation.

METHODS: This was an observational cohort study emulating a hypothetical RCT by the clone-censor-weight approach using population-based Danish healthcare registries. The study included Danish patients undergoing curative-intent surgery for pancreatic cancer during 2008-2021, who were discharged alive no more than 4 weeks after surgery. At the time of discharge after surgery, the data for each patient were duplicated; one copy was assigned to the adjuvant chemotherapy strategy and the other to the no adjuvant chemotherapy strategy of the hypothetical trial. Copies were censored when the assigned treatment was no longer compatible with the observed treatment. To account for informative censoring, uncensored patients were weighted according to measured confounders. The primary outcomes were absolute difference in 2-year survival and median overall survival, comparing adjuvant with no adjuvant chemotherapy.

RESULTS: Some 424 patients with pN0 and 953 with pN+ disease were included. Of these, 62.0 and 74.6% respectively initiated adjuvant chemotherapy within the 8-week grace period. Among patients with pN0 tumours, the difference in 2-year survival between those with and without adjuvant therapy was -2.2 (95% c.i. -11.8 to 7.4)%. In those with pN+ disease, the difference in 2-year survival was 9.9 (1.6 to 18.1)%. Median overall survival was 24.9 (i.q.r. 12.8-49.4) and 15.0 (8.0-34.0) months for patients having adjuvant and no adjuvant therapy respectively.

CONCLUSION: In a target trial emulation using observational data, adjuvant chemotherapy did not improve survival after surgery for node-negative pancreatic cancer.

TidsskriftBritish Journal of Surgery
StatusUdgivet - 2024


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