A trial comparing everolimus with sunitinib for kidney cancer that has spread (ASPEN)

Cancer type:

Kidney cancer
Renal cell carcinoma




Phase 2

This trial was for people with an uncommon type of renal cell cancer called non clear cell kidney cancer. Cancer Research UK supported this trial.

More about this trial

When this trial was done, there wasn’t a standard treatment for non clear cell kidney cancer that had spread to another part of the body. Early research showed that either sunitinib or everolimus might be a useful treatment.

Sunitinib and everolimus are both types of biological therapies Open a glossary item called cancer growth blockers. They block signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow but work in slightly different ways. 

In this trial, researchers wanted to find out which treatment worked better for this group of people.

The aims of this trial were to

  • find out if sunitinib or everolimus worked better for non clear cell renal cancer
  • learn more about the side effects

Summary of results

The trial team found that sunitinb worked better than everolimus for people with non clear cell renal cell cancer. 

This was a randomised trial. 108 people took part. They were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups. 

  • 51 had sunitinib
  • 57 had everolimus

The researchers looked at the average length of time people lived without signs of their cancer getting worse. This is called progression free survival. On average it was

  • just over 8 months (8.3 months) in the people who had sunitinib
  • just under 6 months (5.6 months) in the people who had everolimus

Diagram for ASPEN results

The more serious side effects of both drugs included

  • high blood pressure
  • infection
  • diarrhoea
  • inflammation of the lungs (pneumonitis)
  • a sore mouth (stomatitis)
  • redness or soreness on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet (hand foot syndrome)

These were more common in the people who had had sunitinib.

The trial team concluded that sunitinib improved progression free survival in this group of patients.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves

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 Andy Armstrong
Professor Rob Jones

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/10/015.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


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

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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