A study looking at a type of PET-CT scan to look for treatment response in people having chemoradiation for mouth or throat cancer (FLAIRE)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Head and neck cancers
Mouth (oral) cancer





This study is looking at a type of PET-CT scan called FLT PET-CT for cancer of the mouth, or part of the throat just behind the mouth (oropharynx). The researchers want to show how the cancer has responded to treatment with radiotherapy.

If you have head and neck cancer you may have radiotherapy, a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy together (chemoradiation), or radiotherapy and a drug called cetuximab.

Researchers have developed new ways of scanning to see how well treatment is working.The scan they are looking at in this study is called an FLT PET-CT scan.  Before the scan you have a small injection of a radioactive substance called FLT. Cells in the body absorb FLT, which helps them show up on the scan.  The more active the cell, the more FLT it absorbs. Cancer cells are very active, so they show up more clearly.

Doctors in this study will scan people having radiotherapy for mouth or oropharyngeal cancer, to see if their cancer cells respond to treatment by becoming less active. They will also look at cancer cells in your original tissue sample (biopsy) and a blood sample. They will compare this with scan information before and during radiotherapy. The main aim of this study is to see if FLT PET-CT scans during and after your radiotherapy can predict how well your cancer has responded to treatment.

Who can enter

This study is recruiting people who are being cared for by doctors at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle. If you are suitable to join, a member of the study team will ask if you would like to take part. People taking part will

  • Have a cancer of the mouth or oropharynx
  • Be due to have radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy or a drug called cetuximab
  • Be having treatment to cure the cancer rather than control symptoms
  • Be well enough to be up and about for at least half the day (performance status 0, 1 or 2)
  • Be able to come for a PET CT scan within 4 weeks of having a CT scan and MRI scan to diagnose your cancer
  • Have satisfactory blood tests
  • Be at least 18 years old

You cannot enter this study if you

  • Have had radiotherapy to your head or neck before
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

Trial design

This pilot study will recruit 16 people. If it is successful, the team will run a larger, phase 2 study.

Everyone will have 3 FLT PET-CT scans for the study. For each scan, you have an injection of FLT, into a vein through a small plastic tube (cannula).  You then lie on a couch for 45 to 60 minutes, and listen to music if you like. This gives time for the FLT to be taken in (absorbed) by the cancer cells. After this you have the study PET-CT scan, which is just like the CT scan you had when you were diagnosed.

The team would also like to take a blood sample and study the sample of cancer (biopsy) you had taken when you were diagnosed. They want to see if there is any link between these and the scan pictures. You give the blood sample when you have the small plastic tube put into your arm for the FLT injection.

Hospital visits

You have your study FLT PET-CT scans at the Newcastle University PET Centre, Newcastle General Hospital

  • When you come to hospital for your radiotherapy planning session
  • In the second week of your radiotherapy treatment
  • 6 weeks after you finish radiotherapy

Side effects

You will be exposed to extra radiation from the scans in this study. But the amount is small compared to what you will be having as part of your radiotherapy treatment.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Charles Kelly

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 10017

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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