Clinical trial tests effectiveness of chemotherapy after surgery for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors

A new clinical trial is testing the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment following surgery for a subset of pancreatic cancer patients.

The University of Cincinnati's Syed Ahmad, MD, is the national principal investigator for the phase 2 Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) 2104 trial.

Ahmad said he began work on this project several years ago in collaboration with Heloisa Soares, MD, PhD, of the University of Utah, through their collaboration as members of the cooperative SWOG Cancer Research Network.

The trial focuses on patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. The current standard of care for these patients is surgery only, followed by observation, but a subset of patients are at high risk for their cancer to return, Ahmad said.

In the past, we would just watch and wait as no studies had proven beneficial to prevent recurrence. 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 combination of drugs in patients who have had surgery but are at high risk of recurrence."

Syed Ahmad, University of Cincinnati Cancer Center co-director and professor of surgery in UC's College of Medicine

In the trial, patients who have had pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors surgically removed will be randomized to two study arms. Select patients will either receive the two chemotherapy drugs or a placebo.

"The primary endpoint is to see if we can prevent recurrence of the cancer," Ahmad said. If the treatment regimen proves successful, it could lead to improved survival rates for these patients, he said.

The study has just opened at UC and aims to enroll 150 patients at sites throughout the country. Ahmad said being part of the SWOG Cancer Research Network helps advance research and patient care.

"It allows us to open studies at hundreds of sites to help with trial enrollment," he said. "It allows us to open novel studies from other institutions so that our local patients have access to cutting edge therapy."

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