Chemotherapy is often used to help shrink the cancer temporarily and may improve survival for
patients with incurable pancreas cancer that has spread to other organs. In Canada, the
gemcitabine chemotherapy is used to treat pancreas cancer that has spread. The combination of
oxaliplatin with other chemotherapies, including 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, and irinotecan
has also been studied and has benefit for patients with advanced pancreas cancer. To date,
there is no test that can be done on a patient's tumour to tell if chemotherapy will work in
pancreatic cancer. Human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (hENT1) has been shown to be
a possible predictor that gemcitabine may or may not work but this needs to be proven in a
randomized study where patients get treated with gemcitabine or a different kind of
chemotherapy while their tumours get tested for hENT1.
This study is being done because we want to prove that hENT1 can predict if gemcitabine will
work in advanced pancreas cancer and if it can, we also would like to show that a different
chemotherapy combination called FOLFOX (a combination of 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, and
oxaliplatin) will be helpful for patients whose tumours don't have hENT1.