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Cancer Research in Scotland

The Cancer Network supports a wide range of clinical studies which are helping to progress cancer care in Scotland and beyond, and all Scottish research ongoing within the network is registered with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

The cancer clinical trial portfolio is very dynamic and is frequently changing as studies open and close to recruitment. Across Scotland, there is a wide range of clinical trials happening in different disease sites. Information on trials happening in the UK can be found on the Be Part of Research platform and the Cancer Research UK website. For specific information on trials happening in Scotland please contact your cancer professional or your local cancer research network.

To highlight the clinical trials happening in Scotland the cancer research network will feature current trials happening during the different cancer awareness months that take place throughout the year.




Pancreatic cancer 

The pancreas is part of the digestive system and has two important functions. It contains pancreatic juices which make enzymes to help break down food as it passes down the digestive tract. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which help control blood sugar levels in the body.

Cancer can develop in various areas of the pancreas but the most common one develops in the cells that produce the digestive juices, called an exocrine tumour.

Around 9,600 people in the UK get pancreatic cancer each year. It is the 11th most common cancer and numbers continue to rise.

For more information on pancreatic cancer, please visit Cancer Research UK

Another useful website is Pancreatic Cancer UK


Trial Spotlight


This stage 1 study is looking at tissue samples of people with pancreatic cancer to see if they can identify the genetic makeup of each person’s cancer and therefore help doctors decide on the best treatment. It will also look at when, why and how people develop pancreatic cancer and predict who is more at risk.

The trial is currently recruiting in Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Edinburgh



The PRIMUS 001 study is part of a large research programme looking at new treatments for cancer of the pancreas. To take part in PRIMUS 001 you must have already joined the PrecisionPanc study.

This study is comparing FOLFOX-A chemotherapy (FOLFOX and nab-paclitaxel) with AG chemotherapy (nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine) for pancreatic cancer that has spread elsewhere in the body. The study looks at whether the newer FOLFOX combination of drugs keeps the cancer at bay for longer with less side effects.

This trial is currently recruiting in Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Additional information can be found on these pancreatic cancer studies, and others, at Pancreatic Cancer UK


Lung cancer 

Lung cancer can start in any part of the lungs or airways. It is the third most common form of cancer in the UK and affects about 46,000 people per year. 

Smoking can be linked to around 86% of all diagnosed cases, whether it is caused by the patient smoking themselves or by inhaling other people’s smoke. Exposure to certain chemicals or a family history of cancer could also have a bearing on why someone gets it.

There are two main types of lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 87 out of 100 lung cancers in the UK and is divided into 3 types; adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer tends to spread faster, less people are diagnosed with it and they tend to be smokers.

More information on lung cancer can be found on Cancer Research UK and the British Lung Foundation 


 Trial Spotlight


This is a trial comparing the standard given dose of radiotherapy with higher doses to treat pain in those who have mesothelioma. Usually they are offered radiotherapy to cope with pain as regular painkillers don’t always work, however, doctors want to ascertain which dosage works best and also what the side effects could be.

The study is currently recruiting in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Forth Valley.



This study is looking at patients with non-small cell lung cancer and how their cancer cells can change over time and at different stages of the disease. This will involve taking blood and cancer cell samples from different parts of the tumour site and also from areas it may have spread to, over a 5 year period. They will analyse these changes to map the evolution of the cancer cells.

The study aims to help understand why some cancer cells become immune to treatment and also eventually aims to develop new treatments to counteract these changes.

The study is recruiting in Aberdeen and Glasgow


Mouth and Oropharyngeal cancer 

Mouth cancer starts in the oral cavity, for example lips, tongue, floor or roof of the mouth, or in oropharyngeal cancer it may start in the tonsils, back wall of the throat or the back third of the tongue etc. It tends to affect men more than women and about 7,800 cases are diagnosed each year in the UK. Surgery may be necessary to ensure you can still breathe, eat and swallow and a patient may also have radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to treat the cancer.

For more information on mouth and oropharyngeal cancers, visit Cancer Research UK


Trial Spotlight


This study looks at those with high risk oropharyngeal cancers which don’t respond as well to standard treatment. Usually doctors treat this type of cancer with a chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, and radiotherapy. The study aims to compare this type of treatment with 4 other forms of treatment to see which works best and will also study how patients cope day to day with the treatment.

The study is currently recruiting in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh



This trial is comparing lenvatinib (a cancer growth blocker which stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow) and pembrolizumab (an is an immunotherapy . It helps the immune system  to find and kill cancer cells. immunotherapy which helps the immune system to find and kill cancer cells) with standard treatment for cancer of the head and neck. It is also looking at lenvatinib on its own. 

The trial is for people whose cancer has come back or spread after previous treatment.

The study is currently recruiting in Aberdeen and Glasgow



The purpose of this study is to assess the safety and effectiveness of pembrolizumab and lenvatinib.

Researchers think that pembrolizumab with lenvatinib might work well to treat head and neck cancers. To find out, half of the people in the trial have pembrolizumab and lenvatinib and the other half have pembrolizumab and a placebo.

The study is currently recruiting in Aberdeen.