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 study looking at PET scans to show how well chemotherapy is working for cancer of the pancreas
This study was to see if a PET-CT scan showed changes in pancreatic cancer after gemcitabine chemotherapy.
More about this trial
Like all chemotherapy gemcitabine has side effects. Doctors wouldn’t want to put people through long courses of treatment with side effects if it didn’t help.
Researchers in this study looked at PET-CT scans to see if they showed early on that the chemotherapy was working. The PET-CT scan in this study used a tracer that had a radioactive substance called FLT. This is FLT PET-CT scan
Cancer cells grow faster than the normal cells around them. So they take up more radioactive substance and stand out clearly on the scan.
The cancer wouldn’t take up so much of the tracer if the chemotherapy was slowing down the cancer growth. The researchers wanted to compare the cancer pictures. They did this before and during the course of chemotherapy to see if the treatment was helping.
The team also took blood samples to look for proteins that can show how well treatment is working. They compared the level of these proteins with the scan information before and after treatment.
They also looked at cancer cells from a tissue sample you had removed before diagnosis. They compared these with what they found on the scan.
The main aim of this study was to see how useful FLT PET-CT scanning was in showing whether gemcitabine chemotherapy worked in people with pancreatic cancer.
Summary of results
- before having chemotherapy
- and about 3 weeks after their 1st dose of gemcitabine
- could be used early in treatment to see if the cancer was responding to gemcitabine
- and that it could be used to show those people whose cancer isn’t responding to gemcitabine early and might benefit from newer drug treatments.
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Rohini Sharma
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer