Advanced pancreatic cancer (PC) has very poor prognosis with present treatments, thus necessitating continued efforts to find improved therapeutic approaches. Both preclinical and preliminary clinical data indicate that cytokine- induced killer (CIK) cells are an effective tool against various types of solid tumors. Here, we conducted a study to determine whether CIK cell-based therapy (CBT) can improve the outcomes of advanced PC.
Eighty-two patients with advanced PC, whose predicted survival time was longer than 3 months, were analyzed retrospectively. With ECOG performance status score of <2. Of all the patients, 57 individuals were receiving chemotherapy, while the remaining 25 individuals were treated with CIK cell-based therapy (CBT).
The overall survival analysis was based on 48 deaths in the 57 patients in the chemotherapy group (84.2 %) and 18 deaths in the 25 patients in the CBT group (72.0 %). The mOS was 13.5 months in the CBT, as compared with 6.6 months in the chemotherapy group. The overall survival rates at 6, 12, and 18 months were 88.9, 61.1, and 38.9 %, respectively, in the CBT group, as compared with the survival rate of 54.2, 12.5, and 4.2 % in the chemotherapy group.
Of 57 patients in the chemotherapy group, no complete responses were seen, 3 patients exhibited a partial response (5.3 %), 14 patients displayed stable disease (24.6 %), and 40 patients showed progressive disease (70.2 %).
Of 25 patients in the CBT group, 1 complete response was seen (4.0 %), 2 patients exhibited a partial response (8.0 %), 14 patients displayed stable disease (56.0 %), and 8 patients showed progressive disease (32.0 %).
The disease control rate (DCR) rate was 29.8 % (17/57) in the chemotherapy group and 68.0 % (17/25) in the CBT group. The DCR rate was significantly higher in the CBT group than in the chemotherapy group.
Patients in the CBT group seemed to have higher incidences of fever and fatigue as compared with patients in the chemotherapy group. The difference was minimal, statistically not significant, and was considered to be attributed to the most common side effect of IL-2 administrated after CIK cell transfusion. There were no significant differences in leucopenia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and infection between the two groups.
In conclusion, the fact that observed prolonged survival for patients receiving CBT supports the notion that CIK cells can greatly improve the prognosis of advanced PC. Based on the data presented here, other estimates of clinical benefit such as objective response rate and progression-free survival and improved quality of life, CBT will hopefully become a standard of care for patients with advanced PC.