Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Cancer

Including cancers originating in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and neuroendocrine system.

A microscope in the laboratory

Hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) cancer is a serious form of cancer. For example, in the UK alone, approximately 10,300 cases of pancreatic cancer are recorded every year. However, only 1 in 4 survive for one year or more, and just over 7% survive longer than five years.

HPB Cancer Overview

The high mortality associated with HPB tumours serves as a driver for our researchers and a driver to improve outcomes in patients affected by these diseases. Over the past two decades, Manchester researchers have developed a strong international reputation in many HPB cancers, including cholangiocarcinoma (also known as bile duct cancer), pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, gallbladder cancer and ampullary cancer and also in improving outcomes for patients with neuroendocrine neoplasms.

Historically, there were few options available to treat patients with HPB cancers or neuroendocrine neoplasms primarily due to their rarity. Now, driven by the focus on improving survival, Manchester clinicians and scientists have initiated and collaborated on many studies seeking to understand how the cancers develop and discover novel treatment options for patients.

Researcher pippetting samples

HPB Research in Manchester

HPB and neuroendocrine tumour research in Manchester is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative effort, combining the best in basic and translational science alongside clinical research in order to improve patient outcomes. The aim is to develop an understanding of cancers through identifying novel biomarkers that help identify the cancer sooner, to understand cancer metabolism and the influence of the tumour microenvironment, and finally to improve how we leverage immunology sciences to treat tumours.

From a clinical research perspective, Manchester researchers have defined the global standard of care in HPB cancers.

  • The Phase III Advanced Biliary tract Cancer (ABC)-02 clinical trial, led by Professor Juan Valle, defined clinical guidelines for first-line treatment through the use of cisplatin plus gemcitabine.
  • The BILCAP studies and subsequent ABC studies have built on these foundations and created further guidelines for treatment following surgery and second-line treatment in patients with the advanced disease.

Neuroendocrine tumours

Manchester researchers are also recognised experts in researching tumours in the neuroendocrine system. Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are highly rare cancers that originate from the endocrine system, including the pancreas.

In 2011, Manchester was awarded Centre of Excellence status by the European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (ENETS), recognising our expertise in treatment, set-up and delivery of clinical trials, and collaboration in the field. This centre is led out of The Christie and was re-accredited in 2019 for a further five years.

Research is International

Sharing standards of practice and learnings is an important process in improving outcomes for everyone affected by cancer. Researchers from Manchester are involved in many global initiatives to share knowledge and practices with others across the world. Examples of our international collaborations include involvement in:

  • The International Biliary Tract Cancer Collaborators (IBTCC) group
  • The sharing of clinical practice and clinical trials expertise with researchers in Chile funded by a Newton-Picarte Grant.
  • The Hepatobiliary Task Force at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the USA
  • The European Network for the Study of Cholangiocarcinoma (ENSCCA)
  • The Horizon 2020 Initiative ESCALON – a collaborative network between Europe and Latin America for research in cholangiocarcinoma
  • The American Pancreatic Association, European Pancreatic Club and International Association of Pancreatology
World Map

A Team Science Approach

Collaboration lies at the heart of HPB cancer and NET research in Manchester. That is why Manchester researchers work closely with or lead research working groups and various steering groups across the world, including:

  • Hepatobiliary, pancreas and NET subgroups within the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)
  • Chair and membership of the hepatobiliary task force at the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
  • Members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Education Council
  • Members of the Advisory Board at ENETS
  • Involvement with various charities and foundations, including AMMF (the UK Cholangiocarcinoma Charity), Pancreatic Cancer UK, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF), Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (USA), Neuroendocrine Cancer UK
  • Members of Faculty, Press and Fellowship committees at ESMO


Aspirations in HPB Cancer and NET Research

Research is continuing to improve the lives of patients affected by HPB cancers and NETs. The team are seeking new collaborations with national and international partners to share practice and develop novel research to improve the lives of all patients with these diagnoses.

To this end, the team aim to further develop HPB cancer and NET research in Manchester, develop new grants through our funding partners and ultimately improve overall survival for patients.

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