The tumor microenvironment in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) plays a vital role in treatment response, and therefore, patient survival. We and others have observed an intimate association of neoplastic ductal cells with non-neoplastic islet cells, recapitulating the ductoinsular complex. We define this phenomenon as tumor-insular complex (TIC). Herein, we describe the clinicopathologic characteristics of TIC in neoadjuvant treated PDAC cases for the first time. We retrospectively reviewed the pathology of 105 cases of neoadjuvant treated PDAC resected at our institution. TIC was noted in 35 cases (33.3%), the mean tumor bed size was 2.7±1.0 cm, mean percentage of residual tumor 40±28% and mean Residual Tumor Index (RTI) (an index previously established as a prognostic parameter by our group) was 1.1±1.0. TIC was significantly associated with perineural invasion (P=0.001), higher tumor bed size (P=0.007), percentage of residual tumor (P=0.009), RTI (P=0.001), ypT stage (P=0.045), and poor treatment response, grouped by a previously established criteria (P=0.010). Using our prior binary reported prognostic cutoff for RTI of ≤0.35 and >0.35, TIC was associated with a RTI >0.35 (P=0.002). Moreover, patients who did not receive neoadjuvant radiation were associated with a higher frequency of TIC (P=0.003). In this cohort, RTI but not TIC was also shown to be a significant independent prognosticator for recurrence-free survival and overall survival on multivariate analysis. In conclusion, TIC is significantly associated with a more aggressive neoplasm which shows a poor treatment response. Further studies will be needed to better understand the tumor biology of TICs.
- Residual Tumor Index
- neoadjuvant therapy
- pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
- tumor-insular complex