We aimed to compare the efficacy of combination therapy versus gemcitabine monotherapy in the treatment of elderly pancreatic cancer (PC) by using a meta-analysis.
Databases were searched to identify relevant clinical trials. Hazard ratios (HRs) were used to estimate overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS). Statistical analyses were conducted by using Comprehensive Meta Analysis software (version 2.0).
A total of 3,401 elderly PC patients from six randomized controlled trials were included for analysis. In comparison with gemcitabine alone, combination therapy in elderly PC patients did not significantly improve OS (HR 0.93, 95% CI: 0.82–1.06, p=0.29). Sub-group analysis according to treatment regimens showed that combined chemotherapy significantly improved OS in comparison with gemcitabine alone (HR 0.73, 95% CI: 0.56–0.94, p=0.016), while gemcitabine plus targeted agents did not improve OS (HR 1.02, 95% CI: 0.87–1.19, p=0.83). Additionally, gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel significantly improved PFS in elderly PC patients (HR 0.69, 95% CI: 0.52–0.91, p=0.009) in comparison with gemcitabine alone. No publication bias was detected by Begg’s and Egger’s tests for OS.
The findings of this study suggest that combined chemotherapy, but not for gemcitabine plus targeted agents, could be recommended for elderly PC patients due to its survival benefits. Further studies are still needed to assess the treatment tolerance of combination chemotherapy in these patient populations.