Pancreatic cancer: Help fund a clinical trial to improve treatment

Last updated: 09/02/2015

What's this project about?


Each year, around 7,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly, the disease is difficult to treat and survival rates are poor.

Professor John Neoptolemos is a world expert on pancreatic cancer.

He is leading a large clinical trial called ESPAC-4, which in the future could help treat patients with less advanced forms of this cancer.

This trial is looking at whether combining two drugs after surgery is better than the current treatment.

The impact of your support

We urgently need to find better treatments for pancreatic cancer to help beat the disease. Your support of this project will help us develop a better way of treating pancreatic cancer.

Watch the video to hear more, and find out about Gillian and Alison's experiences with pancreatic cancer.

A transcript of this video is available.

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Project closed – February 2015

We're very excited to announce that we've achieved the fundraising target for this project! Thank you so much for helping us to raise almost £110,000 for pioneering research into pancreatic cancer.

With the continued help of our supporters we can accelerate our progress against this devastating disease.

Fundraising and donations to this project have closed. If you’d like to continue to support our life-saving work in pancreatic cancer, please take a look at the project below.

Pancreatic cancer: Help us take vital steps forward in treating this disease

Project update - May 2014

Thanks to the everyone who has donated or fundraised for this project. Your amazing support has meant we hit our £105,000 target sooner than expected. We have now been able to extend the target to £110,000 to fund more of this trial.

Project update - March 2011

We checked in with Professor Neoptolemos, who had this update to share with you:

Open QuoteThanks to your support, this project is now very much up and running. We have recruited over 150 patients to the trial across 40 UK sites and 10 centres in Sweden. We are also working together with big pancreas centres across Europe, and soon patients from both France and Germany will also be involved in the research.

Your vital support is also helping us collect samples from people with pancreatic cancer, so we can find out if our genes influence how the disease develops and look for new ways of diagnosing this disease at an early stage.Thank you all for the great fundraising efforts - we appreciate your hard work.Close Quote

What’s the science behind the project?

The trial aims to find out whether giving a patient a combination of two chemotherapy drugs after surgery is more effective than the current standard treatment and has acceptable side effects.

Professor Neoptolemos led a previous clinical trial that showed that, for people with advanced pancreatic cancer, giving the chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine and capecitabine together was more beneficial than gemcitabine alone.

Building on this success, Professor Neoptolemos is now leading a new trial, ESPAC-4, to find out whether the same drug combination can also improve survival for patients with less advanced forms of the disease.

Read more about this project >

The ESPAC-4 trial is recruiting patients who have early-stage pancreatic cancer that can be removed with surgery. It will find out whether giving people a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine after surgery is better at stopping or delaying the cancer returning, compared with gemcitabine alone. It will also assess how any additional side effects impact the patients’ quality of life.

This important trial aims to recruit over 1,000 people with pancreatic cancer from around the world. If the results show that the new drug combination is beneficial, it could become the new "gold standard" treatment for people who have had surgery to remove their pancreatic cancer.

For more information about pancreatic cancer you can visit the CancerHelp UK website pancreatic cancer pages.You can find out more about this trial on our CancerHelp UK clinical trials database.

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The difference you can make

While we have made real strides in improving the outlook for many types of cancer, progress in pancreatic cancer has been limited and survival rates remain low. If successful, the results from this large international clinical trial could lead to a change in the way that patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer are treated and improve survival for thousands of people with the disease.

Professor Neoptolemos needs about £105,000 each year to carry out this vital trial. Help us reach the fundraising target by donating today.

Meet Margaret and Yasmin

Margaret and her daughter YasminMargaret lost her husband Shaukat to pancreatic cancer and now finds that there are lots of new challenges in day-to-day life.

"Oh, I miss him everyday," Margaret says. "Everyday there’s something different and I think, oh my god, I didn’t realise I’ve never done this before."

"I mean, it’s many years since I’ve opened a jar. He just used to open it and hand it back."

Margaret and her daughter Yasmin have been active in raising funds for pancreatic research through their MyProjects Giving Group.

"It’s important to me that every possible effort is to stop other people in the future going through what we’ve been through, and what he went through."

Special thanks

With sincere thanks to The Riley School of Dance & Performing Arts in Doncaster for their £9,532.50 donation to this research project in memory of Bethany Fitzpatrick.