Bile duct cancer trial reaches recruitment target
31 August 2022
This month saw the recruitment target met in a CTC trial for patients diagnosed with a hard-to-detect cancer affecting the bile duct. 

83 patients have been registered to the ABC-07 trial across 16 sites in England, Scotland, and Wales. Their cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma, is often diagnosed after the point at which surgery—currently the sole potential cure—remains a feasible option. ABC-07 is investigating non-surgical treatments for the disease. 

On the trial, all patients are treated with six cycles of chemotherapy using the drugs cisplatin and gemcitabine. After this, participants are randomly selected to receive either an additional two cycles of the same chemotherapy, or to receive a special type of radiotherapy known as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). This treatment precisely targets a tumour using radiotherapy beams from many different directions, minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissues which receive only a low dose of radiation as a result. 

Helen Morement, founder and CEO of the UK’s only charity dedicated to bile duct cancer, AMMF, commented: ‘With few treatments in the armoury for cholangiocarcinoma, to have a study looking at the tried and tested first line treatment of gemcitabine and cisplatin with the addition of a precise form of radiotherapy, SBRT, was a very welcome step forward. We were delighted when the recruitment target was met, and look forward with hope to the results.’ 

Professor Maria Hawkins, based at UCLH, is the trial’s chief investigator and remarked: ‘Patients with rare cancers deserve better treatments. We hope ABC-07 will clarify if radiotherapy should be considered in addition to systemic treatment for patients with inoperable disease that has not spread to other organs.’  

Open since 2015, the trial has overcome the challenge of registering a cohort of patients with a rare type of cancer, something compounded when recruitment paused at hospitals which redeployed their research staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof Hawkins went on to add: ‘I would like to thank all the participants for participating, to all the clinical teams that enrolled patients, CRUK for funding and AMMF for assisting us to complete the recruitment for our study. This is the largest international prospective trial. We are grateful for your support and we could not have done the study without your commitment.’

The ABC-07 trial is funded by Cancer Research UK and sponsored by UCL. Patients will be followed up for two years and the team hopes to publish the results of the study in 2025.

Image: high magnification micrograph of a cholangiocarcinoma, © Michael Bonert

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