A randomized, phase II trial of oral azacitidine (CC-486) in patients with resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma at high risk for recurrence

Thatcher R. Heumann, Marina Baretti, Elizabeth A. Sugar, Jennifer N. Durham, Sheila Linden, Tamara Y. Lopez-Vidal, James Leatherman, Leslie Cope, Anup Sharma, Colin D. Weekes, Peter J. O’Dwyer, Kim A. Reiss, Dulabh K. Monga, Nita Ahuja, Nilofer S. Azad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Of the only 20% of patients with resectable pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (rPDA), cancer recurs in 80% of cases. Epigenetic dysregulation is an early hallmark of cancer cells acquiring metastatic potential, and epigenetic modulators may reactivate tumor suppressor genes, delay recurrence, and sensitize PDA to future chemotherapy. Methods: This was a randomized phase II study (NCT01845805) of CC-486 (oral DNA methyltransferase inhibitor azacitidine) vs. observation (OBS) in rPDA patients harboring high-risk features (stage pN1-2, R1 margins, or elevated CA 19–9 level) with no evidence of disease following standard adjuvant therapy. Patients were randomized to oral CC-486 treatment (300 mg daily on days 1–21 on a 28-day cycle) or OBS for up to 12 cycles or until disease relapse/unacceptable toxicities. Following recurrence, records of next-line therapies, imaging, and survival were obtained. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS)—time from randomization to recurrence (imaging/biopsy confirmed or death). Secondary endpoints included OS and PFS and ORR and metastatic PFS with subsequent next-line systemic therapy in metastatic setting. Results: Forty-nine patients (24 in CC-486 arm, 25 in OBS arm) were randomized: median age 66 (range 36–81), 53% male, 73% node positive, 49% elevated CA 19–9, 20% R1 resection, 63% and 100% received perioperative concurrent chemoradiation and chemotherapy, respectively. Median time from surgery to randomization was 9.6 mo (range 2.9–36.8). For the CC-486 arm, median treatment duration was 5.6 mo (range 1.3 to 12.8) with 14 treatment-related grade 3 or 4 AEs among 5 patients (22%) resulting in dose-reduction. Four patients (17%) discontinued therapy due to AEs. With median follow-up of 20.3mo (IQR 12.8, 41.4), 38 (79%) of evaluable patients recurred (34 imaging-confirmed, 4 clinically). Median PFS in imagining-confirmed cases was 9.2 and 8.9mo (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.46–1.87, p = 0.85) for CC-486 and OBS patients, respectively. Median OS (2-yr OS%) was 33.8 (50%) and 26.4 mo (61%) in CC-486 and OBS patients, respectively. (HR 0.98, 95% CI 0.46–2.05, p = 0.96). ORR with subsequent chemotherapy in the metastatic setting was minimal in both arms. Conclusions: Treatment with CC-486 following adjuvant therapy did not prolong time-to-relapse in patients with high-risk rPDA or improve disease response on 1st-line metastatic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number166
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Azacitidine
  • Clinical trial
  • Epigenetic therapy
  • Hypomethylation
  • Maintenance therapy
  • Pancreatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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