A trial looking at gemcitabine with omega 3 fish oil to treat pancreatic cancer

Cancer type:

Pancreatic cancer




Phase 2

This trial looked at using omega 3 fish oil alongside gemcitabine to treat pancreatic cancer. It was for people with pancreatic cancer that had grown into the surrounding tissues (was locally advanced) or it had spread to other parts of the body.

More about this trial

Doctors can use chemotherapy to treat advanced pancreatic cancer. One chemotherapy drug they use is gemcitabine. Doctors have given gemcitabine with other chemotherapy drugs to try and improve treatment, but with little success.

We know from laboratory studies Open a glossary item that omega 3 fish oil may slow down the growth of pancreatic cancer cells and increase the rate that the cancer cells self destruct. This is called apoptosis. In other laboratory studies researchers have also found that using omega 3 fish oil with gemcitabine worked better than gemcitabine alone against pancreatic cancer cells.

The aims of the trial were to

  • Find out if having omega 3 fish oil alongside gemcitabine can help people with advanced pancreatic cancer
  • Find out how it affected quality of life Open a glossary item
  • Learn more about the side effects Open a glossary item

Summary of results

The trial team found that having fish oil alongside gemcitabine improved quality of life and helped some people in this small trial.

50 people took part. Everybody had gemcitabine and omega 3 fish oil.

The researchers looked at how well treatment worked. They had the results for 35 people. They found that

  • The cancer went away a little bit in 5 people. Researchers call this a partial response Open a glossary item
  • The cancer stayed the same in 25 people. Researchers call this stable disease Open a glossary item
  • The cancer got worse in 5 people

The researchers also looked at quality of life. They looked at 36 patients who had completed at least 4 treatments. More than half reported an improved quality of life compared with the beginning of the trial. They also reported improved pain levels.

The main side effects of treatment were

  • A drop in blood cells causing an increased risk of infection, bleeding problems, tiredness and breathlessness
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Chills

The trial team found that having omega 3 fish oil alongside gemcitabine helped some people and improved quality of life. They suggest that this treatment is looked at in more detail in a larger trial in the future.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. 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 who did the research. 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

Dr Ashley Dennison

Supported by

B. Braun Medical Ltd
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 6400

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

Last reviewed:

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