November 28, 2016 • 2 Min

Testing the Effectiveness of Radiation and Standard Treatment

Image of DNA on a blue background showing blue columns of different lengths broken up by bands of red, green, aqua, and lighter blue.

Micah Baldwin; Flickr

Can the combination of focused radiation therapy and a standard chemotherapy regimen control pancreatic cancer that has spread to nearby tissues?

A clinical trial compares the standard treatment of modified FOLFIRINOX with modified FOLFIRINOX plus a specialized radiation treatment to see if the new treatment delays the progression of the cancer.

Standard Chemotherapy Plus Radiation

FOLFIRINOX is one of the standard treatments for advanced pancreatic cancer. It is a four-drug combination: FOL (leucovorin calcium, or folinic acid), F (fluorouracil, or 5-FU), IRIN (irinotecan hydrochloride), OX (oxaliplatin). Each of these drugs enhances the action of the others. Fluorouracil (5-FU) is an antimetabolite that disrupts a specific part of the cell replication cycle. Derived from folic acid, leucovorin enhances the effects of 5-FU. Irinotecan inhibits the replication and transcription of DNA, and so interferes with cell growth. Oxaliplatin, a platinum compound, disrupts DNA and kills cancer cells. Modified FOLFIRINOX varies the dose or form of the different drugs that make up the combination.

Does SBRT Make Treatment More Effective?

To make chemotherapy work even better researchers are adding stereotactic body radiation therapy, known as SBRT. This type of radiation treatment uses multiple beams of high-dose radiation focused on a specified location in the body. The technique enables the radiation oncologist to kill cancer cells and limit the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation. The precise location for the radiation beams is determined using 4-D imaging to map the area that will receive treatment. Metal markers are then implanted to outline the boundaries of that area.

Participants in this trial are divided into two groups. One group will receive just the modified FOLFIRINOX; the other will receive SBRT along with the chemotherapy. The goal is to see which treatment provides better control of pancreatic cancer.

The trial is for patients who have never had radiation or any previous treatment other than modified FOLFIRINOX.

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 is active, but no longer recruiting patients.

What new treatments and clinical trials are available to me?

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