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The Collins Pancreatic Cancer UK Scholarship

Recipient: Dr Rille Pihlak (Future Leader)

Supervisors: Professor Juan Valle and Dr Mairéad McNamara

Host Institution: University of Manchester

Title: The Collins Pancreatic Cancer UK Scholarship: Improving outcomes in patients with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

Type of award: 2015 Future Leaders Fund

Funding: £137,000

The outcome for patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (where cure is not an option) remains dismal, and in the immediate absence of novel beneficial agents to treat this disease, addressing issues such as clinical and patient-reported outcomes is of utmost importance. Improving outcomes through personalised medicine (individual patient-directed therapy based on the molecular profile of their tumour) may also have a significant impact on patient survival. 

Gemcitabine therapy has long been the standard first-line treatment for patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. In 2011, as compared with gemcitabine, a combination chemotherapy regimen called FOLFIRINOX was associated with a survival advantage in patients and concluded that FOLFIRINOX significantly reduced quality of life impairment.  

In this study, Rille will examine the impact of FOLFIRINOX therapy on patient-reported outcomes in a real-life clinical setting. In addition, she will review patients treated with FOLFIRINOX in the Christie to determine its real-life effects on progression-free and overall survival and associated toxicities.

Rille will also investigate patient and physician interpretation of clinically meaningful outcomes in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Finally, during the project Rille will assess the safety of a new agent in combination with the chemotherapy doublet, gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel, in patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.