First patient joins PALEO trial for oesophageal cancer treatment

The first patient has joined a new clinical trial in Newcastle that offers immunotherapy as part of palliative treatment for oesophageal cancer. This means that a new option is available to these patients, who are often faced with a limited number of treatments.

The PALEO team, led by Dr Fiona Day, is studying the effects of the addition of stereotactic body radiotherapy SBRT to treatment with the immunotherapy treatment nivolumab in people with metastatic oesophageal cancer. It aims to prolong relief from dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) for patients undergoing palliative treatment for oesophageal or gastro-oesophageal cancer.

“PALEO offers multimodality treatment to address the complications of oesophageal cancer,” says Dr Day. “Each of the treatment component is typically well tolerated, which fits our aim of optimising patient quality of life by aiding return to a normal diet with minimal side effects. The feasibility of this approach is demonstrated by recruitment of our first patient shortly after trial opening.”

Typically, patients with oesophageal cancer present with dysphagia. Dr Day and trial co-investigator Prof Jarad Martin found that first line concurrent chemoradiotherapy resulted in all 18 patients in a phase one study achieving improvement in their dysphagia.

The majority of patients also returned to a normal diet, and at least three achieved complete relief of their dysphagia for over a year.

In the PALEO study, researchers aim to prolong this dysphagia relief and simultaneously provide distant disease control with the use of immunotherapy and SBRT to a metastatic site. It is hoped this trial will develop a positive signal that warrants a larger scale trial in the future.

PALEO is open in Calvary Mater Newcastle and recruiting patients with metastatic oesophageal or gastro-oesophageal cancer. It is the first trial to be activated under the AGITG Endorsed Study Model.