In acknowledgement of Pancreas Cancer Awareness Month the GI Cancer Institute recently held a Living Room Series event to discuss the progress being made in developing improved treatments for pancreatic cancer patients.
Pancreatic cancer is amongst the most lethal of all adult cancers. Over 2,500 Australians are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Currently, the 5-year survival rate is only 7.7% with only small improvements in survival over the past 30 years.
Our expert speakers, Conjoint Professor David Goldstein, Medical Oncologist and Co-Chair of our GAP Study and Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Medical Oncologist & Board Member GI Cancer Institute, discussed the history of Pancreatic Cancer Trials in Australia and the importance of the AGITG & GI Cancer Institute in contributing to the progress that has been made.
As Prof. Goldstein spoke to, treatment advances require “patience and patients”. Advancements over the past 15 years have occurred due to the persistence of cancer scientists. That all said progress would not have happened without patients who were willing to undergo treatment of potential new therapies in clinical trials.
Prof. David Goldstein commented “Australians have always punched above their weight in their willingness to participate in clinical trials. As a consequence Australian clinicians and researchers have been able to contribute and remain at the forefront of pancreatic cancer research globally.”
The strength that the AGITG network provides to collaborative learning and in providing access to trials, for patients across the country, has also greatly assisted in delivering results.
Dr Lorraine Chantrill discussed the progress that has been made with genomics and flagged some of the constraints that have been faced, particularly in terms of technology and speed of analysis. She added these barriers are being removed at a rapid rate, providing the opportunity in the next 5 years for improved cost effective access to information in a timely manner. For disease like Pancreatic Cancer with life expectancy from diagnosis of 6-12 months these technology improvements are critical to ensuring that targeted treatments can be delivered fast enough.
Dr Chantrill also discussed a new AGITG Pancreatic Cancer trial – PA.7 which has just been confirmed to roll out across Australia by mid-2018 and is a first of its kind – combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy in the treatment of Pancreatic Cancer. This Stage 3 trial has been much anticipated as the results from a Stage 2 trial conducted in Canada using this approach showed a lot of promise.
“This is an exciting development for pancreas cancer,” said Dr Lorraine Chantrill Principal Investigator – AGITG. “Finally we will be able to offer our patients immunotherapy in a large national academic trial in Australia. The purpose of the PA.7 study is to compare the effect on pancreatic cancer of adding two new immunotherapy drugs durvalumab and tremelimumab to standard chemotherapy.”