Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial to find out if it is possible to predict how well people with pancreatic cancer will do
This trial looked at a number of factors to see if it was possible to create a ‘tool’ to predict how people with pancreatic cancer will do.
Pancreatic cancer can be difficult to treat because it is often diagnosed late and doesn’t always respond very well to treatment. Researchers would like to design a tool they can use to help predict who will respond to treatment.
The trial team looked at medical records of people who had taken part in 2 trials for pancreatic cancer years earlier. They wanted to see if there were any factors common to all people who did well, or to all those who did less well.
The aim of this trial was to see if it was possible to predict how people with pancreatic cancer are likely to respond to treatment.
Summary of results
The research team found that there are a number of factors that could be used to help predict which people with pancreatic cancer will do best.
Researchers looked at the medical records of 653 people who had taken part in 2 trials (called BB128 and BB193) in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This type of research is called a retrospective trial.
Everyone taking part in the two earlier trials had pancreatic cancer that could not be removed with an operation. Their cancer had either been diagnosed, had started to grow again, or had spread in the 8 weeks before they joined the trial.
The research team looked at over 30 factors they thought might help predict how people would do. They analysed them using several different statistical methods. They found a number of factors could be useful, including
- The level of 2 proteins - albumin and CA 19.9
- The level of 3 enzymes - lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), alkaline phosphatase and aspartate transaminase (AST)
- Whether the cancer had spread or not
- White blood cell count
- The level of ‘blood urea nitrogen’ (BUN)
Some of these factors have a stronger link than others. Other possible predictive factors include levels of bilirubin and haemoglobin.
The research team concluded that more work needs to be done on this, but that these factors may help doctors decide which treatment is best for people with pancreatic cancer in the future.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Deborah Stocken
Cancer Research UK