Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial comparing treatment for primary liver cancer that cannot be removed with surgery (TACE)
This trial compared 2 treatments called chemoembolisation and embolisation to see which was better at treating primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
Doctors didn’t know whether chemoembolisation worked better than embolisation alone. The aim of this trial was to compare these two treatments to find out which worked best and to find out more about the side effects.
Summary of results
The trial team found it was possible to use chemoembolisation to treat liver cancer. They think it is better than embolisation but aren’t sure if it improves survival.
- 43 had chemoembolisation
- 38 had embolisation
At the end of treatment, the researchers looked at a scan of the liver to assess how well the cancer had responded. They found that in the group who had embolisation
- 7 people had no sign of cancer –
- In 11 people the cancer had shrunk –
- In 4 the cancer stayed the same –
- In 6 the cancer got worse
For the remaining 10 people, the scan results were missing.
For those who had chemoembolisation
- 13 people had no sign of cancer
- In 16 people the cancer had shrunk
- In 6 the cancer had stayed the same
- In 2 the cancer had got worse
For the remaining 6 people the scan was missing.
After an average follow up of 2 years, the researchers found no difference between the 2 groups in the length of time people lived after treatment. They also found no difference in the length of time it took for the cancer to start growing again.
The worst side effects for people who had chemoembolisation were
The worst side effects for people who had embolisation were
- A change to the way the liver worked
- Feeling or being sick
The trial team concluded that chemoembolisation may be better than embolisation to treat liver cancer but they couldn’t conclude that it improved overall survival.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
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.
Prof Tim Meyer
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University College London (UCL)