“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."
A trial looking at new combinations of chemotherapy drugs in early stage breast cancer (tAnGo)
This trial looked at paclitaxel (Taxol), cyclophosphamide and epirubicin with or without gemcitabine after surgery for breast cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors often treat early stage breast cancer with surgery. Many women also have chemotherapy to help stop their cancer coming back. Drugs that doctors often used include epirubicin, cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel.
In this trial, doctors looked at adding a drug called gemcitabine. The aims of the trial were to
- See if adding gemcitabine further reduces the risk of early stage breast cancer coming back
- Find out how well women tolerate the treatment
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The researchers found that adding gemcitabine did not further reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back after surgery.
The trial recruited 3,152 women
- Half had 4 cycles of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (EC), followed by 4 cycles of paclitaxel
- Half had 4 cycles of EC, followed by 4 cycles of paclitaxel and gemcitabine
Nearly 9 out of 10 women (89%) completed all 8 planned cycles of chemotherapy.
After an average of 3 years of follow up, the trial team found that the number of women whose cancer had not come back was about the same in both groups. They suggest that this shows there is no benefit to adding the dose of gemcitabine used in this trial.
Over 600 women completed quality of life questionnaires. During treatment, the women who had all 4 drugs reported more side effects, such as sickness, tiredness, diarrhoea and sore mouth. But the difference between the 2 groups was only small.
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.
Dr Chris Poole
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/00/004.