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.
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 five 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."
This clinical trial is no longer accepting new patients. To find other clinical trials for pancreatic cancer, search the NCI's database of clinical trials 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.