A trial looking at chemotherapy before surgery for pancreatic cancer (SONG)

Cancer type:

Pancreatic cancer




Phase 2

This trial compared gemcitabine chemotherapy alone with gemcitabine and cisplatin, before surgery for pancreatic cancer.

Cancer of the pancreas is very difficult to treat. Many of these cancers are not diagnosed until the cancer is quite advanced. But if it is likely to be possible to remove your cancer, your surgeon will offer you surgery. Even if removing the cancer is possible, there is a risk that it may come back.

In this trial, the doctors wanted to find out if having chemotherapy first can shrink pancreatic cancer and increase the number of people who can have an operation. They also wanted to find out if chemotherapy before surgery helps to stop the cancer coming back.

The aims of the trial were to find out if having gemcitabine alone or a combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin before surgery

  • Meant that more people could have surgery to remove pancreatic cancer
  • Helped to stop pancreatic cancer coming back after surgery

Summary of results

The trial team found that people who had the combination chemotherapy were more likely to be able to have their cancer completely removed and also lived longer after their treatment.

This trial recruited 50 people between 1999 and 2003. They all had pancreatic cancer that their doctors thought possible to remove with surgery.

  • 24 people had gemcitabine
  • 26 people had gemcitabine and cisplatin

Surgery was possible for over a third of the people who had gemcitabine alone, and nearly three quarters of those who had both drugs. The number of people alive a year later was higher in the group who had both gemcitabine and cisplatin (62%) compared to those who had gemcitabine alone (42%).

Side effects included a drop in blood count, and this was a bit worse for the people who had both drugs.

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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item), and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

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.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Mr Simon Bramhall
Dr Bass Hassan
Mr John Buckels

Supported by

Eli Lilly and Company Limited
Eveson Charitable Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 105

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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