Celiac Plexus Radio-Surgery for Pain Management

Official Title

Celiac Plexus Radio-Surgery for Pain Management in Advanced Cancer Patients - a Phase II Trial


Many cancer patients, especially those with pancreatic cancer, suffer from severe lower back / upper abdominal pain. This pain is often poorly managed with standard treatments; the doses of painkiller required often induce side effects, whereas nerve block procedures (where a needle is deeply inserted into the back) are both invasive and of limited benefit. This clinical trial investigates a unique novel approach in which high-dose radiation (radiosurgery) is focused on the offending nerve bundle (the celiac plexus) in the posterior abdomen. Preliminary results from a single institution pilot trial are very promising: pain relief is substantial and side effects minimal. In this multi-centre clinical trial, patients will be accrued and receive treatment at several international locations. Main aim of the study: Establish the safety and efficacy of the treatment in the multi-centre setting. This trial will bring pain relief to cancer sufferers and improve current acceptable standard of care. The trial resonates with the Gateway mission of promoting new treatments that directly benefit people living with cancer, enhancing their wellbeing, and consequently decreasing the fear associated with a cancer diagnosis.

Trial Description

Primary Outcome:

  • Pain
Secondary Outcome:
  • Average Pain Level
  • Opioid use
  • Quality of Life
  • six minute walk
  • hand grip strength
Severe lower back pain radiating anteriorly in a belt-like distribution is characteristic of pancreatic cancer. The pain is thought related to involvement of the celiac nerve plexus, located behind the pancreas; due to either macroscopic compression or microscopic perineural invasion. Contemporary approaches (narcotic analgesics, celiac nerve blocks and systemic chemotherapy) each have drawbacks, and as a consequence many patients suffer from severe pain. We hypothesized that ablative radiosurgery (high dose, precise X-ray treatment) focused on the celiac plexus would succeed in palliating these patients, possibly by interrupting pain transmission. It is important to emphasize that bringing pain relief to cancer patients is not only humane, but also associated with improved mood, quality of life and possibly improved survival. Our preliminary results suggest that the treatment is both effective and well tolerated; furthermore it appears that the patients tolerate subsequent cytotoxic treatments better. We will perform a prospective phase II multicentre clinical trial to test our hypothesis Compared to the small pilot trial the follow-up trial will: 1) Enroll a larger number of patients (n=100). 2) Be performed across a number of institutions, in both the Middle East and the United States. 3) Include improved measures of quality of life and functional capacity. 'Caregiver burden' and 'Patient hope' will also be assessed. 4) Incorporate exploratory translational endpoints relating to immune activation. Target population Adult patients with severe, poorly controlled lower back/abdominal pain (intensity at least 5/10 on the Numeric Pain Rating Scale) thought to originate in the celiac plexus (generally, but not exclusively, from pancreatic cancer). Patients with a poor prognosis, and those with previous radiation to the upper abdomen will be excluded. Systemic therapies will need to be stopped several days prior to, and following, treatment.

View this trial on ClinicalTrials.gov

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