A clinical trial carried out at the University of Liverpool has shown that a commonly used chemotherapy drug is equally effective as more expensive treatments for pancreatic cancer.

The drug, 5-fluorouralcil, has been shown to help prevent recurrence of the cancer in patients who have undergone a surgery.

Professor John Neoptolemos of the Institute of Translational Medicine said the study indicates that patients now have a backup drug in case standard chemotherapy fails.

“We’ve already launched a new trial investigating whether combining the two treatments could be even more effective and prolong life,” Neoptolemos said.

An estimated 7,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK every year. The five-year survival rate is 3%.

The trial took place in 159 centres in Australasia, Canada, Europe and Japan and involved 1,088 patients who had undergone pancreatic cancer surgery.

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By GlobalData

One group were given standard chemotherapy drug gemcitabine, while the other had the less-expensive but widely available 5-fluorouracil.