The poor outcome of pancreatic cancer with conventional treatment options emphasizes the need for continued research. The benefits of gemcitabine in improving quality of life and survival have been established in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Randomized clinical trials studying the addition of a second drug to gemcitabine, either a classic cytotoxic (5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, irinotecan, pemetrexed, oxaliplatin, or exatecan) or targeted agents (ie, the farnesyl transferase inhibitor R115777 or the metalloproteinase inhibitor marimastat) have not resulted in improvement in survival compared with gemcitabine alone. Although limited activity of docetaxel in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma has been reported in single-agent studies, attractive efficacy results have been documented with docetaxel in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents for the management of advanced pancreatic cancer. Phase I and II trials of docetaxel in combination with gemcitabine, irinotecan, 5-fluorouracil, or thalidomide, as well as trials of docetaxel and radiotherapy, suggest that docetaxel combinations in pancreatic cancer should be further studied in randomized trials.
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