Affiliation: Department of Surgery, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-6904, USA.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death in the United States, with a 5-year survival of less than five percent. Since the majority of patients have locally advanced or metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis, there has been little progress made to extend survival. For over ten years, chemotherapy with gemcitabine has been standard treatment for those patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, prolonging survival by only 5-6 months. To improve upon this modest benefit, several investigations have explored other strategies aimed at curbing pancreatic cancer growth. Because pancreatic cancer has been found to have a profoundly hypoxic environment with high vascular in-growth, several agents have been developed to target the angiogenesis process. Major emphasis has been placed on anti- vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) models and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway. Over the past several years, a number of phase II and phase III trials have combined gemcitabine with these novel treatments, with the hope of prolonging survival in patients with pancreatic cancer. This review will discuss these therapies and their potential application in a clinical setting.