A Pilot Study of Perillyl Alcohol in Pancreatic Cancer

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Journal of Surgical Research

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Chemotherapy has been largely unsuccessful in pancreatic cancer. Measurement of cell-specific biological endpoints may clarify the evaluation of a newer generation of compounds. Perillyl alcohol has shown chemotherapeutic activity in preclinical systems through enhancing apoptosis.


To pilot a new trial template for testing novel agents in pancreatic cancer and to assess the biological activity of perillyl alcohol in patients with resectable pancreatic cancer.


Apoptosis was quantified with ApopTag in situ, Bak staining, and light microscopy. Tumor size, serum CA 19–9 level, and survival were also measured.


Eight patients enrolled. Toxicity was mild and perillyl alcohol was generally well tolerated. Tumor size and CA 19–9 level were unchanged with perillyl alcohol treatment. Survival time was longer in patients who received full perillyl alcohol treatment (288 ± 32 days) compared to those who did not (204 ± 96 days), but this result did not achieve statistical significance (P = 0.2). There was a trend toward greater apoptosis in patients receiving perillyl alcohol compared to fresh operative controls; there was also a suggestion of greater apoptosis in tumor compared to normal pancreatic tissue in the same patient.


Incorporation of cell-specific biological endpoints is challenging but feasible and should be used in clinical studies of pancreatic cancer treatment. Our pilot study suggests that perillyl alcohol may indeed have effects on biological endpoints. This study will serve as a useful template for examining cell-specific biological endpoints in the testing of future agents that are thought to induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer.


Link leads to full text provided by Elsevier.