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The trials and tribulations of clinical trials

Posted by: Guest author 13 June 2016

Last weekend I addressed the delegates of the International Symposium on Pancreatic Cancer or Pancreas 2016, as it is more commonly known. The event bought together 350 medical and research experts from all over the globe, to explore current knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer. 

In my speech I talked about our flagship campaign, Key to Survival, which amongst other things is calling for changes that will improve the quality and quantity of pancreatic clinical trials. We believe research and clinical trials are critical to the development of future treatments. 

There are unfortunately drawbacks to taking part in a clinical trial, and it is not the right option for everybody. However, patients should be told about trials as soon as possible so that, if they are eligible, they can then make an informed choice as to whether to take part or not.

Over the last few months we’ve spoken to a number of people with pancreatic cancer. We asked them how they found out about trials, why they wanted to take part and their experience of them. People like Robert, who wanted to contribute to future pancreatic cancer research.

According to the latest data, less than five per cent[1] of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year are currently taking part in dedicated clinical trials as part of their treatment, compared with an average 18.1 per cent of cancer patients overall.[2] We want to see this change and for patient participation in trials to have at least doubled by 2020 across the UK. For this to happen we need every patient and relevant healthcare professional to be informed about existing trials and possible options. Only then will the treatment options for pancreatic cancer look better than they do now.

At Pancreatic Cancer UK we want to help and that’s why last month we launched our Clinical Trial Finder, the first-ever interactive UK-wide map and database. Our tool will enable patients and health professionals find out what pancreatic cancer trials are currently open in the UK, easily and quickly.

But it is not just about people being made aware of existing trials. We need to make sure there are a greater number of trials set up and that these are accessible across the UK. We also need a more strategic approach to trial set up for pancreatic cancer. We've developed eight policy calls that we will be campaigning on to make this happen.

If you want to help us in unlocking access to clinical trials now and in the future and support our policy calls for improving clinical trials, fill out this form and we will keep in touch with you about our campaigning activity.

Thank you.

Alex Ford,

Chief Executive


[1] 2014/2015 4.6% of pancreatic cancer patients were taking part in a dedicated clinical trial, National Council for Research Network.

[2] Data provided by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, Cancer Annual Report 2013-2014.