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A study looking at the genetics of pancreatic cancer and how this may affect treatment

Research title: PRECISION-Panc: Advancing personalised medicine treatment strategies for pancreatic cancer

Why is this study being carried out?

The Precision Panc study will look at the genetic changes in pancreatic cancer to try to understand more about when, how and why people develop pancreatic cancer. Researchers want to use this information to try to find out why some treatments work for some people and not for others.

Genes are the instructions that control how our bodies work. There is a set of genes in every cell in our bodies. There are genes in cancer cells as well as normal cells. This means that cancers may be different, even if they start in the same place. For example, there may be different forms of pancreatic cancer, based on the genes in the cancer cells. Researchers think different treatments may work better for different forms of pancreatic cancer.

In the first phase of Precision Panc, if you have already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer you will be asked to provide tissue samples. This will involve having a biopsy . If you haven’t yet been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, this biopsy can be taken as part of the tests to diagnose the cancer. These samples will be analysed to look at the genes to try to understand more about the type of pancreatic cancer.

People may then be able to take part in other clinical trials which are linked to Precision Panc. These trials will test different treatments. At the moment, this is PRIMUS-001.  In this trial, people will be selected for the different treatments randomly – which is how most clinical trials are carried out. But as people taking part will also have given tissue samples, researchers will be able to look at the genetics of their cancer. They will also look at how well the treatment worked for each person. The researchers will use this information to try to work out which treatment works best for different forms of pancreatic cancer, based on their genes.

The second phase of the Precision Panc study will start in a few years. This phase will try to work out which treatments might be most suitable for different forms of pancreatic cancer. This will involve recommending that people take part in specific clinical trials, based on their particular type of pancreatic cancer.

If you take part in Precision Panc now, you may not benefit from the study yourself. This is because we don’t yet know enough about the genetics of pancreatic cancer and which treatments are most suitable for different types of pancreatic cancer. But you may be able to take part in other trials linked to Precision Panc, such as PRIMUS-001, if they are suitable for you. And you may help people with pancreatic cancer in the future, as researchers hope that by understanding more about pancreatic cancer, they will understand more about how to treat it.

You will only be able to take part in the PRIMUS-001 trial if you join the Precision Panc study and have a biopsy.

This is a new type of study for pancreatic cancer. If you would like to discuss it more, you can speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line.

What does taking part involve?

Taking part in the Precision Panc study will involve the following.

  • You will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about your medical history, and allow researchers to access your medical records.
  • You will need to give a blood sample – this can be done as part of your usual tests.
  • You will also need to give tissue samples from your cancer – this will involve having a biopsy to collect the samples.
  • Researchers will contact your doctors every 3-6 months to find out how you are doing.
  • You will be asked to allow the researchers to carry out tests on your tissue samples in the future. 
  • Researchers will share the results from this study with other researchers. Your genetic and health information will be anonymous, and it will not be possible for the researchers to identify you.

Your consultant will be told the results of the tests carried out on the samples you provide, and will discuss these with you. If in the future, tests help to identify a treatment that might be more suitable for you, your doctor will be told about this.

Tests may show that you are at higher risk of getting cancer or other health conditions in the future. It may also show an increased risk for your family. This is because of genetic changes that can be inherited from your parents and may increase your risk. Most pancreatic cancers aren’t inherited – less than one in ten (10%) of pancreatic cancers may be caused by rare genetic conditions that run in families. Read more about pancreatic cancer that runs in families. You can say on the consent form at the start of the study if you wish to be told if the tests do find a higher risk.

All of your genetic and health information will be stored securely. This will be anonymous and it won’t be possible to identify you from your samples.

If you decide at a later date that you no longer wish to take part in the study, any tissue samples that haven’t been used will be destroyed. However, it won’t be possible to destroy any samples already sent to other researchers.

Who is the study suitable for?

The study may be suitable for you if you:

  • Have a type of pancreatic cancer called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (the commonest form of pancreatic cancer), or suspected pancreatic cancer
  • are fit enough for treatment
  • are willing to have a biopsy.

It may not be suitable for you if you:

  • are too unwell for chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat the cancer
  • have a type of pancreatic cancer that is not adenocarcinoma – for example a neuroendocrine tumour, sarcoma or lymphoma.

Recruitment end date: 2022

  • Trial centres

    The Precision Panc study is being carried out at:

    • Glasgow Royal Infirmary 
    • Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
    • Western General Hospital, Edinburgh
    • Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Care, Glasgow
    • Ninewells Hospital, Dundee
    • Raigmore Hospital, Inverness
    • Guy’s Hospital, London
    • Royal Free Hospital, London
    • St George's Hospital, London
    • Kings College Hospital, London
    • University College London Hospital
    • Imperial College Healthcare Trust, London
    • Royal Marsden, Chelsea
    • Royal Marsden, Surrey
    • Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
    • Churchill Hospital, Oxford
    • Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre
    • Southampton General Hospital
    • Royal Bournemouth Hospital
    • The Freeman Hospital, Newcastle (recruitment is paused)
    • The Christie, Manchester
    • Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield
    • St James's Hospital, Leeds (recruitment is paused)
    • Castle Hill Hospital, Hull
    • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
    • Nottingham University Hospital 

    Contact information

    You can contact the trial centre by email on: contact@precisionpanc.org

    Website: www.precisionpanc.org

  • Speak to your consultant if you are interested in joining the Precision Panc study.

    If you have any questions about pancreatic cancer you can speak to one of our specialist nurses on freephone 0808 801 0707.

Updated May 2022