July 23, 2018 • 2 Min

A New Combination Chemotherapy Before Surgery

orange colored clear vitamin D pills in a circle against an orange background

essgee51; Flickr

Does a combination of chemotherapy and a vitamin shrink pancreatic tumors to make them more easily removed surgically?

Surgery is one of the most effective treatments for pancreatic cancer, but not all tumors can be removed because of location or spread of the cancer. This clinical trial looks at the effectiveness of a drug combination, including a form of vitamin D, at slowing or stopping tumor growth to make surgical removal possible.

The Drug Combination Plus Vitamin D

Four different drugs are used in this trial. The combination of gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel is one of the standard treatments given before surgery. Gemcitabine is converted into two metabolites that cause cell death. One reduces the number of molecules available to make DNA; the other shortens the DNA strands. Nab-paclitaxel inhibits cell division and promotes cell death.

Cisplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug that binds to the DNA and blocks the rapid proliferation of cancer cells. Since cancer cells multiply faster than normal cells, platinum agents preferentially kill cancer cells.

Paricalcitol is a vitamin D analog—similar in structure to vitamin D but with a slight difference in composition—that has been found to alter the cells that form a barrier around a tumor. With the barrier altered, chemotherapy is better able to reach the tumor and be more effective.

Participating in this Trial

To be considered for this trial, patients must have pancreatic cancer that is resectable, borderline resectable, or locally advanced. All participants will receive three cycles of the drug combination in this trial. When the three cycles are completed, everyone will have blood work to check CA 19-9 levels. Researchers are following CA 19-9 levels to measure response rate to the treatment. Patients with a CA 19-9 within the normal range will be scheduled for surgery and will get standard care. Patients with an elevated CA 19-9 will receive three more treatment cycles. In addition, all participants will receive an MRI to see if the tumor has responded.

We encourage you to consult your physicians for clinical trials that may be right for you. The website provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a listing of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.

This trial remains active but is no longer recruiting.

What new treatments and clinical trials are available to me?

Learn more