The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network conducted a research study on the landscape of pancreatic cancer clinical trials in the U.S. in order to better understand how to accelerate clinical progress against pancreatic cancer and achieve the organization's goal to double the survival rate by 2020. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The results of the study indicate that pancreatic cancer trials that were open in 2011 would require 6.7 years on average to complete enrollment, a longer timeframe than what is ideal to make rapid progress against the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. The study also found that even though slightly more pancreatic cancer patients participate in clinical trials than in other adult cancer trials nationwide (4.57% v. 3%), a much higher enrollment is needed to answer important questions in a shorter timeframe to advance new treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients.
The data from the study also suggests there is a need for greater coordination of pancreatic cancer clinical trials nationally to best serve the needs of patients. For example, there should be fewer trials designed to treat early stage/resectable disease, since fewer patients are diagnosed at that stage, and more trials to treat metastatic or locally advanced patients since more patients are diagnosed at those stages. If trials can be better coordinated nationwide to focus on patients' eligibility, and other factors like geographic accessibility, this will help accelerate enrollment and the development of new and better treatment options for patients.
"The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is dedicated to continuing to educate patients and families about clinical trials, work closely with the medical and scientific research communities to address the national coordination issues, develop strategies that address the challenges identified in this research study and reach our goal of doubling the survival rate by 2020," said Julie Fleshman, president and chief executive officer of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
The clinical trial analysis was made possible by a comprehensive, proprietary database of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials in the country that is maintained by the organization's Patient and Liaison Services (PALS) program. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network encourages all patients to consider clinical trials when exploring treatment options at all stages of their disease and each time a treatment decision is made.
"Having the right number and balance of carefully designed clinical trials will facilitate accrual of patients in a timely manner, allow patients access to increased options to receive the best care and answer questions necessary to move the field forward and ultimately improve patient outcomes," said Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and medical affairs of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and lead author on the study.