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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Research - clinical trials for pancreatic cancer

Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials.

Clinical trials may be carried out to:

  • test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs, gene therapy or cancer vaccines
  • look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, in order to make them more effective or to reduce side effects
  • compare the effectiveness of drugs used for symptom control
  • find out how cancer treatments work
  • see which treatments are the most cost-effective.

Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different operation, type of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what is already available.

Taking part in a trial

You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. There can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and the development of new treatments. You will also be carefully monitored during and after the study. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials.

The process of clinical trials is described in more detail in our section on cancer research trials.

Blood and tumour samples

Many blood samples and bone marrow or tumour biopsies may be taken to find out what is wrong with you. Most of these are needed to make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. Some samples may be frozen and stored for future use, when new research techniques become available.

The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or it may be at another hospital. This type of research takes a long time, so you are unlikely to hear the results. The samples will, however, be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment. This research will, hopefully, improve the outlook for future patients.

Research treatments

Various combinations of chemotherapy drugs are being used in research trials to treat pancreatic cancer, including the commonly used drugs mentioned, and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®), and Tegafur with uracil (Uftoral®).

As part of research trials, a drug called erlotinib may be given alongside chemotherapy. Erlotinib (Tarceva®) is a type of biological therapy. Other types of biological therapy may also be used – these include gefitinib (Iressa®), trastuzumab (Herceptin®), bevacizumab (Avastin®) and cetuximab (Erbitux®). Biological therapies work in a different way to chemotherapy and usually have fewer side effects.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk


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