City hospital chosen for global clinical cancer trial

Dianne Dobson - nurse with Pancreatic Cancer UK
Dianne Dobson - nurse with Pancreatic Cancer UK
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A NEW clinical trial taking place at the Western General Hospital will look to offer patients with advanced pancreatic cancer longer life expectancy.

Pancreatic Cancer UK is encouraging people with the illness to find out more about the HALO 301 trial which is offering a new combination of treatments which could ultimately allow patients to live for longer.

It will take place at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre and forms part of a global study that will involve 420 people with advanced pancreatic cancer that has spread outside the pancreas.

There are currently very few treatments available for the illness which has a meagre 3.8 per cent five-year survival rate in Scotland and accounts for the death of 8,800 people every year in the UK. There are 793 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in Scotland.

The study will focus on people with adavanced pancreatic cancer who have high levels of a substance called hyaluronan (HA) which helps the tumour grow. The patients on the trial will be treated with two existing chemotherapies, nabpaclitaxel and gemcitabine, in combination with a new form of chemotherapy called PEGPH20. This is an enzyme that breaks down HA.

The hope is that this new combination treatment will slow tumour growth and prolong life expectancy.

Pancreatic Cancer UK nurse Dianne Dobson, who is working on the trial, said: “The two drugs currently used for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer have been proven to have a good outcome – so by adding in the new treatment PEGPH20 what we’re hoping is that this will slow the growth of the pancreatic cancer even further.

“This is a phase 3 trial so is not a treatment that is available outwith the trial and obviously it is important to try and recruit the patients so that we can see if this is something that is effective and can then be used as a regular standard treatment.

“We will be looking to recruit patients from Edinburgh and all over Scotland. For patients who may have a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, if they’re aware of this trial it would be important for them to speak to their oncologist and [ask] is it something they could be considered for.”

The earlier HALO 202 trial in America has already shown promise. Results published in January showed the combination of treatments significantly delayed tumour growth and disease progression in patients with high levels of HA. Fewer people receiving the combination treatment experienced blood clots in their veins, a common problem for pancreatic cancer patients.

Anna Jewell, from Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Clinical trials for pancreatic cancer are always exciting, as new treatment options are urgently needed to allow patients to spend more precious time with their families, and this one shows real promise.”

Find out more about the HALO trial at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/halo