ESPAC-3 Pancreas Study

Lead researcher

Dr Robert Padbury (SA), A/Professor David Goldstein (NSW), Dr Jeremy Shapiro (VIC), Dr David Grimes (QLD)


The Alfred Hospital

Years funded


Research into the treatment of pancreatic cancer in adults. Over 1,650 Australians are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. In most cases surgery will remove the tumour but it is possible that the cancer will return as a result of undetectable disease (micrometastases). The cancer will return and be incurable in the majority of patients. More than 1600 Australians die of the disease every year. This study compares the impact of adding chemotherapy to surgery alone (the standard of care). The study will also compare the effectiveness of two different types of chemotherapy. It is possible that patients treated with chemotherapy after their tumour has been surgically removed may live longer before their disease returns and may live longer overall. This has been shown to be true in other cancers e.g. breast and bowel. The side effects of chemotherapy are important and can be severe in some people. Recent studies of advanced pancreatic cancer have suggested that the new drug gemcitabine may be more effective than other drugs. For this reason the trial compares the outcomes in people treated with gemcitabine to those treated with an older drug 5FU, which has been shown to improve survival in an earlier study by a European group. This trial will determine if chemotherapy in addition to surgery increases the length of time before the disease comes back and survival. If it does, it should become standard practice. This study is an important international initiative that will provide unique information about effectiveness of these treatments and their impact on quality of life from the patient's perspective. This study and the previous European study are the largest of their type ever done. Over 1000 people will take part. This study is being conducted in Australia by the Australasian Gastrointestinal Trials Group and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre. Australia and New Zealand have already contributed close to 100 patients on the trial.

Award / Duration

Multi-State Research Grant: 2007