NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
July 13, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 28 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Featured Clinical TrialFeatured Clinical Trial

Combination Biological and Chemotherapy for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

Name of the Trial
Phase III Randomized Study of Gemcitabine With Versus Without Cetuximab as First-Line Therapy in Patients With Locally Advanced Unresectable or Metastatic Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas (SWOG-S0205). See the protocol summary at

Dr. Philip Philip Principal Investigator
Dr. Philip Philip of the Southwest Oncology Group.

Why Is This Trial Important?
Pancreatic cancer is associated with the poorest survival among all major cancer types. In the United States, it accounts for 5 percent of all cancer deaths, or about 30,000 deaths per year. Furthermore, the numbers of new cases of pancreatic cancer (incidence) and deaths (mortality) have changed little over the past three decades.

The chemotherapy drug gemcitabine (Gemzar) is a commonly used treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer, but its benefits are minimal. Researchers hope that adding cetuximab (Erbitux), a monoclonal antibody, to gemcitabine will result in an improved response.

Early clinical work with cetuximab has shown that it does have some effectiveness against pancreatic cancer. Cetuximab binds to cancer cells and blocks a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR is found in abnormally high amounts on the surface of many types of cancer cells, causing the cells to divide excessively in the presence of epidermal growth factor proteins.

"Currently there is no satisfactory treatment for pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Philip. "This trial employs a novel targeted therapy that blocks EGFR, hopefully resulting in cancer cells that are less likely to proliferate, more sensitive to chemotherapy, and more prone to apoptosis, or cell death."

Who Can Join This Trial?
Researchers seek to enroll 704 patients with locally advanced unresectable or metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. See the full list of eligibility criteria for this trial at

Where Is This Trial Taking Place?
Multiple study sites in the United States are recruiting patients for this trial. See the list of study sites at

Who to Contact
See the list of study contacts at or call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). The call is toll free and completely confidential.

An archive of "Featured Clinical Trial" columns is available at