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Open Access Research article

Impact of neoadjuvant chemotherapy with PELF-protocoll versus surgery alone in the treatment of advanced gastric carcinoma

Catharina Ruf1, Oliver Thomusch1, Matthias Goos1, Frank Makowiec1, Gerald Illerhaus2 and Guenther Ruf1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, University of Freiburg, Universitätsklinikum, Hugstetterstr. 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany

2 Department of Oncology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

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BMC Surgery 2014, 14:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-14-5

Published: 24 January 2014



In a retrospective study we analyzed the impact of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (CTx) with the PELF - protocol (Cisplatin, Epirubicin, Leukovorin, 5-Fluoruracil) on mortality, recurrence and prognosis of patients with advanced gastric carcinoma, UICC stages Ib-III.


64 patients were included. 26 patients received neoadjuvant CTx followed by surgical resection, 38 received surgical resection only. Tumor staging was performed by endoscopy, endosonography, computed tomography and laparoscopy. Patients staged Ib – III received two cycles of CTx according to the PELF-protocol. Adjuvant chemotherapy was not performed at all.


Complete (CR) or partial response (PR) was seen in 20 patients (77%), 19% showing CR and 58% PR. No benefit was observed in 6 patients (23%). Two of these 6 patients displayed tumor progression during CTx. Major toxicity was defined as grade 3 to 4 neutropenia or gastrointestinal side effects. One patient died under CTx because of neutropenia and was excluded from the overall patient collective. The curative resection rate was 77% after CTx and 74% after surgery only. The perioperative morbidity rate after CTx was 39% versus 66% after resection only. Recurrence rate after CTx was 38% and 61% after surgery alone; we detected an effective reduction of locoregional recurrence (12% vs. 26%). The overall survival was 38% after CTx and 42% after resection only. The 5-year survival rates were 45% in responders, 20% in non - responders and 42% in only resected patients. A subgroup analysis indicates that responders with stage III tumors may benefit with respect to their 5-year survival in comparable patients without neoadjuvant CTx. As to be expected, non-responders with stage III tumors did not benefit with respect to their survival. The 5-year-survival was approximated using a Kaplan-Meier curve and compared using a log-rank test.


In patients with advanced gastric carcinoma, neoadjuvant CTx with the PELF- protocol significantly reduces the recurrence rate, especially locoregionally, compared to surgery alone. In our study, there was no overall survival benefit after a 5-year follow-up period. Alone a subgroup of patients with stage III tumors appear to benefit significantly in the long term from neoadjuvant CTx.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; PELF; Advanced gastric cancer