Clinical trial brings new hope for pancreatic cancer treatment

23 May 2018

In Summer 2016, Arthur Owtram started experiencing mild jaundice. After undergoing a number of tests, he received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer which had spread to his liver.

Arthur’s prognosis was not positive. Pancreatic cancer currently has one of the lowest survival rates. Only about 50% of people with pancreatic cancer survive beyond about four months, and five-year survival is only about 7%.

Two years later, Arthur is alive, feeling fantastic, and enjoying walks in the park thanks to a clinical trial through the Canadian Cancer Society-supported Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) being led by Dr Daniel Renouf.

The trial is testing the combination of two immunotherapy drugs together with standard chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer. For Arthur, his decision to join the trial was easy.

“I didn’t have to think too much about the decision,” says Arthur, who lives in South Surrey, BC. “I knew the trial was a good thing to be involved with because my prognosis wasn’t good and I wanted to contribute to pancreatic cancer research in any way I could.”

While results from the trial are not yet conclusive, some patients have seen reductions in tumour size and the amount of tumour markers in their body. For Arthur, he has seen a reduction in the metastases in his liver and the tumour in his pancreas has decreased in size by 38%.

“There has been success in other cancers with immunotherapy treatments, and with this novel combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy, we are hoping to see similar success in pancreatic cancer,” says Dr Daniel Renouf, chair of the trial and co-director of Pancreas Centre BC, at BC Cancer’s Vancouver Centre.

Clinical trials help test new and innovative ways to prevent, detect, treat or manage cancer and can give patients new hope while adding to the progress we’re making against cancer. You can help support clinical trials by making a donation, or purchasing a gift to help fund clinical trials.