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New trial for pancreatic cancer aims to curb recurrence

Dr. Ahmad is the principal investigator of the SWOG 2104 clinical trial. Photo/UC Health.

CANCER DIGEST – May 20, 2023 – A new clinical trial has begun aimed at reducing the recurrence of pancreatic cancer after surgery.

Led by the University of Cincinnati’s Syed Ahmad, MD, the Southwest Oncology Group 2104 trial will enroll 140 patients at 248 cancer centers in the US with diagnoses of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor that was treated surgically within 90 days of registration.

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers in part due to a recurrence rate of 60% within two years of surgery and 80% within five years, according to a Johns Hopkins analysis.

The current standard of care for these tumors is surgery only, followed by observation. This clinical trial grew out of a collaboration between Dr. Ahmad and Heloisa Shares, MD, PhD of the University of Utah.

“In the past, we would just watch and wait as no studies had proven beneficial to prevent recurrence," said Ahmad in a press release. “However, there was a recent study in patients with advanced cancer showing the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and temozolomide. So we proposed and opened this (trial of a) combination of drugs in patients who have had surgery but are at high risk of recurrence.”

In the trial patients will be randomly assigned to current standard of treatment with surgery only, or treatment with the combination chemotherapy regimen using capecitabine and temozolomide. The chemotherapy will be administered in a staggered fashion with patients taking oral capecitabine twice daily for 14 days, and then adding one oral temozolomide pill on days 10 through 14. That regimen is then repeated after 28 days for up to 4 cycles as long there is no progression of the cancer.

The primary aim of the trial is to prevent recurrence. If the treatment proves successful, it could lead to improved survival rates for these patients.

SWOG is a cancer research network of cancer centers and physicians who collaborate on testing promising clinical treatments for a variety of cancers. SWOG involves more than 18,000 physicians and 1,300 hospitals, clinics and cancer centers around the world.

Sources: University of Cincinnati press release, SWOG Cancer Research Network, the journal Anticancer Research

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