Research Involvement Network opportunity: Provide insight on a study aiming to make diagnosis more efficient for people with pancreatic cancer

Type of opportunity

Members of the Research Involvement Network are invited to contribute to discussion as part of a focus group taking place 1-3pm on Monday 12th April. The purpose of the focus group is to give people affected by pancreatic cancer the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback and insight to the researchers leading the study. This is an important part of the research process and helps to ensure that the research being conducted is relevant to the needs of people affected by pancreatic cancer.

Focus groups will be conducted virtually, via Zoom videoconferencing and should last no longer than 2 hours.

If you prefer not to take part in a focus group there is also an opportunity to provide written comments on this study- we will provide all of the information needed for this.

About the study

Cancers of the pancreas and bile duct are often challenging to biopsy given their difficult to access location. Traditionally, these tumours require invasive procedures such as endoscopies to get a biopsy and make the diagnosis of cancer. One in four patients with suspected cancer of the pancreas and bile duct will undergo repeated invasive tests to get a diagnosis. This results in delays in initiating treatment and added anxiety for patients and their families. We need simple, non-invasive tests which improve this diagnosis pathway.

Liquid biopsies are a simple blood test to detect DNA from cancer cells in the blood. It has transformed the cancer pathway for some cancers already, and is a promising new technology which can be obtained with greater ease than a traditional biopsy.

This research team want to introduce liquid biopsy in the diagnostic pathway of patients with pancreatic and bile duct cancers. We know these patients often have aggressive tumours, and timely diagnosis is critical in their cancer journey. We still haven’t got a test in place to diagnosis patients earlier, therefore it is even more important to ensure that the methods that have already been developed to give people a diagnosis can be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.  This project will therefore put liquid biopsies at the initial diagnostic steps, for a faster and more efficient diagnosis. The researchers are applying for funding through the SBRI early detection and diagnostic efficiency grant. The SBRI is a large cancer innovation fund, which funds projects to develop and implement innovations aimed at improving cancer processes.

How will the study benefit people affected by pancreatic cancer?

This study may help facilitate a more timely and efficient diagnosis in patients with suspected pancreatic cancer. Some patients may avoid a traditional invasive needle biopsy and have a liquid biopsy performed instead. This will avoid the risks associated with endoscopy procedures such as bleeding, infection and hospital admissions. Also, detecting and analysing ctDNA may provide greater knowledge of individual patient’s cancers which could inform more personalised treatment decisions in the future. Ultimately, this could help patients to have more treatment options and the potential to survive longer and spend more time with their loved ones. 

Who is drafting this proposal and leading the focus group?

Dr Naureen Starling is the chief investigator for the PREVAIL ctDNA study and a medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Dr Justin Mencel is a research fellow and trial physician for the study.

When will this opportunity be taking place?

Please express your interest by no later than Thursday 8th April 2021.

The focus group will take place 1-3pm on Monday 12th April 2021.

Who can take up this opportunity?

This opportunity is aimed at anyone who has been affected by pancreatic cancer (any member of the Research Involvement Network).

What steps will be taken to ensure that information about participants is stored and used in compliance with the provisions outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

Data will be kept on a password protected computer. Any personal data will only be used for the purposes of this project. Focus groups will be recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Recordings will be deleted following transcription.

What next/who to contact:

Please send your expressions of interest and whether you would like to participate in the focus groups or complete written feedback to the Pancreatic Cancer UK Research Team.