Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial looking at chemotherapy before surgery for pancreatic cancer (SONG)
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.
- 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 (
How to join a clinical trial
Mr Simon Bramhall
Dr Bass Hassan
Mr John Buckels
Eli Lilly and Company Limited
Eveson Charitable Trust