The results of the chemoradiotherapy trial (SCALOP) were published recently in the Lancet Oncology. At Pancreatic Cancer UK, we welcome the results and here we're going to explain what it means for pancreatic cancer patients.
Our CEO, Alex Ford, comments, "We are very encouraged by the results of this trial and the fact that it is being used more as a technique in pancreatic cancer treatment in the UK. There is a real need for more treatment options for this patient group and therefore we fully support the research into chemo-radiation that is being conducted in the UK later this year."
In the UK, chemotherapy is the standard treatment for inoperable, locally advanced, non-metastatic pancreatic cancer. Chemoradiotherapy is also an acceptable treatment option, for which gemcitabine, fluorouracil, or capecitabine can be used as concurrent chemotherapy agents.
The phase II trial (known as SCALOP) conducted in the UK aimed to assess the activity, safety, and feasibility of both gemcitabine-based and capecitabine-based chemoradiotherapy after induction chemotherapy for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer.
After 3 cycles of chemotherapy, chemo-radiation was given to patients who were found to have stable or responding disease on a CT scan. The study showed that chemo-radiation given in this way is very well tolerated and the trial outcomes were encouraging in terms of improving survival in this patient group.
The results of this trial show improvements in disease free progression in locally advanced pancreatic cancer and in overall survival in this patient group.
The current situation:
Chemo-radiation is being used more and more and is now available in many UK centres. A daily dose (Monday to Friday) of radiotherapy is given, together with a chemotherapy drug given in the normal way, usually gemcitabine (weekly infusion), fluorouracil (5FU) (daily infusion) or capecitabine (daily tablets). The combined treatment usually starts after three months of chemotherapy alone and lasts for five to six weeks.
If you want to find out more about this treatment, read our radiotherapy information, which we've recently updated. You can also ask your oncologist whether chemo-radiation is a suitable treatment for you and whether it is available in your specialist centre. You may also want to read other people's experiences of chemo-radiation treatment.