Three studies focus on improving treatments for gastrointestinal cancers

Last year, nearly 12,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, and every year an estimated 8,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma. While gallbladder and bile duct cancers are rare, pancreatic cancer is the second most common gastrointestinal malignancy, and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

All three forms of cancer rarely exhibit recognizable symptoms in the early stages and as a result the diseases are often advanced when discovered and diagnosed.

In recognition of Gallbladder Cancer and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month, we present three clinical trials available at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence Cancer Institute of Oregon, that seek to advance treatment and improve outcomes for patients with gallbladder cancer, bile duct cancer or pancreatic cancer.

Adding new medicine to radiation treatment to improve outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer

This two-arm placebo-controlled study is designed to measure overall survival of patients with nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer by adding GC4711 to radiation treatment following chemotherapy. GC4711 is an experimental medicine to increase the effectiveness of radiation.

Radiation treatment will be delivered with MRI precision guidance using state-of-the-art MR Linac technology. MRI-guided radiation therapy is the safest modality available to treat tumors of the abdomen due to its adaptive therapy capabilities. Providence is the only health system in the Pacific Northwest with MR Linac technology.

Study participants will be randomly selected to receive GC4711 with their radiation treatment, or a placebo.

Steven Seung, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Gamma Knife Center of Oregon at Providence Cancer Institute and radiation oncologist at The Oregon Clinic, is the principal investigator. Providence is the only Oregon-based location out of 14 total in the U.S. that is recruiting for this study. Get the full study details here:

Phase 2b Study of GC4711 in Combination with SBRT for Nonmetastatic Pancreatic Cancer (GRECO-2)

Study looks at adding chemotherapy before and after surgery for gallbladder cancer

The purpose of this study is to determine whether adding chemotherapy before and after surgery for treating patients with stage II/III gallbladder cancer is more effective than only giving chemotherapy after surgery. The standard treatment is to give chemotherapy after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells. Adding chemotherapy before surgery may shrink tumors and thereby reduce the extent of surgery, while also making it easier for the surgeon to distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue.

This is a randomized, two-arm study. Study participants will be randomly selected to have surgery followed by chemotherapy, or chemotherapy followed by surgery, and then chemotherapy again after surgery.

The study sponsors and collaborators are ECOG_ACRIN Cancer Research Group and the National Cancer Institute.

Alison Conlin, M.D., MPH, medical director of the Providence Breast Cancer Program and High-Risk Breast Clinic at Providence Cancer Institute, is the principal investigator. Get the full study details here:

Optimal Perioperative Therapy for Incidental Gallbladder Cancer (OPT-IN): A Randomized Phase II/III Trial

Pemigatinib versus chemotherapy in bile duct cancer

This two-arm study is designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of pemigatinib, a fibroblast growth factor receptor inhibitor, versus gemcitabine plus cisplatin chemotherapy in treating patients with metastatic or unresectable bile duct cancer which harbor a specific genetic alteration. Unresectable refers to a tumor that cannot be surgically removed.

Study participants will be randomly selected to receive pemigatinib, or gemcitabine plus cisplatin chemotherapy. Should the cancer progress in participants receiving the gemcitabine plus cisplatin chemotherapy, they will be eligible to cross over and receive pemigatinib.

Gina Vaccaro, M.D., medical director of Gastrointestinal Cancer Research at Providence Cancer Institute is the principal investigator. Providence is the only location in Oregon that is currently recruiting for this study. Get more details on the study here:

A Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Pemigatinib Versus Chemotherapy in Unresectable or Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma (FIGHT-302)

For more information about these studies or to refer patients, please contact our Clinical Research office:

See more studies

More than 20 gastrointestinal cancer studies are currently open to enrollment at Providence Cancer Institute. New research studies are added frequently.

See all studies in all cancer types at Providence Cancer Institute.

Providence Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Program

The Providence Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Program serves patients with disorders of the liver, bile ducts, gallbladder and pancreas. Our team of experts offers many services as a single-source center for patients.

At Providence, we use a multidisciplinary approach for your treatment. This means we meet as a group – medical oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, oncology nurse navigators, social workers and other experts. Having different viewpoints helps us tailor treatment plans to each person’s needs. Whether you could benefit from radiation, surgery or a clinical trial, we have options to help. To learn more, visit our website.

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