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 looking at chemotherapy for advanced cancer of the pancreas (GEM-CAP)
This trial compared gemcitabine alone with gemcitabine and capecitabine (Xeloda) for advanced pancreatic cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Unfortunately, most people with pancreatic cancer cannot have surgery to cure their cancer because it is too advanced when it is diagnosed. Doctors believe that giving chemotherapy helps patients by improving symptoms.
The aim of the trial was to see if having gemcitabine and capecitabine together is better than having gemcitabine alone for advanced cancer of the pancreas.
Summary of results
The trial team found that pancreatic cancer responded to treatment in more people who had both drugs. And more people who had both drugs lived for over a year after treatment.
The trial recruited 533 people
- 266 people had gemcitabine alone
- 267 people had gemcitabine and capecitabine
Results from the group of people who had gemcitabine alone showed that
- In 1 person, all signs of the cancer disappeared – researchers call this a
- In 32 people, the cancer got smaller – researchers call this a
- In 78 people, the cancer didn’t get bigger or smaller – this is called
- In 52 people, the cancer got worse
In the group of people who had gemcitabine and capecitabine
- 8 people had a complete response
- 43 people had a partial response
- 79 people had stable disease
- The cancer got worse in 42 people
The average length of time it took before the cancer started growing again was less than 4 months for people who had gemcitabine and just over 5 months for people who had both drugs.
Around 1 in 4 people (24%) who had both drugs lived for more than one year, compared to about 1 in 5 people (22%) who had gemcitabine alone.
The main side effect was a drop in the number of blood cells. This affected slightly more people who had both drugs.
The researchers also looked at the results of this trial together with 2 other similar trials. This is called a meta-analysis. Together, the trials in the meta-analysis provided information about more than 900 people. It showed that a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine helped people with advanced pancreatic cancer more than gemcitabine alone.
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 D. Cunningham
Professor J Neoptolemos
Cancer Research UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/01/008.