A trial of docetaxel with or without selumetinib for advanced melanoma (DOC-MEK)

Cancer type:

Skin cancer




Phase 2

This trial looked at docetaxel with or without selumetinib (AZD6244) for people whose melanoma cells didn’t have a change (mutation Open a glossary item) in a gene called BRAF. This trial was for people whose melanoma had spread to the surrounding lymph nodes Open a glossary item or to another part of the body. This is called advanced melanoma.

Doctors sometimes use chemotherapy drugs such as docetaxel (Taxotere) to treat advanced melanoma. But it doesn’t always work very well. Doctors hoped that using a new treatment called selumetinib with docetaxel may have worked better than docetaxel alone.

Selumetinib is a type of drug called a MEK inhibitor and it works by blocking growth signals. MEK is a protein that sends signals to cells telling them to divide and grow. Researchers hoped that selumetinib would reduce the amount of MEK and slow down or stop the growth of cancer.

The aims of this trial were to find out

  • If docetaxel and selumetinib was better than docetaxel alone for advanced melanoma with no BRAF gene change
  • More about the side effects

Summary of results

The researchers found that docetaxel with selumetinib was no better than docetaxel only for people with melanoma without a change in the BRAF gene.  

This was a phase 2 trial. It recruited 83 people.

It was a randomised trial. The people taking part were put into treatment groups by a computer. Neither they nor their doctor were able to choose which group they were in and neither knew which group they were in. This is called a double blind trial.

  • 41 people had docetaxel and selumetinib
  • 42 people had docetaxel and a dummy drug (placebo)

After an average follow up of just over 13½ months, the researchers looked at the average length of time people were still alive and free of cancer. They found that for both groups it was around 4 months.

The average overall time that people lived was less than 12 months in both groups with no significant difference between them.   

The side effects were similar between the 2 groups, although more people who had docetaxel and selumetinib had  

The trial team concluded that adding selumetinib to docetaxel didn’t help people with advanced melanoma without a BRAF gene change.  

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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. 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

Prof Mark Middleton

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
University of Oxford

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/10/026. 

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.

Over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials in the UK last year.

Last reviewed:

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