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 looking at docetaxel chemotherapy for advanced cancer of the stomach, the oesophagus or the junction of the stomach and oesophagus (COUGAR-02)
This was a trial to find out how well the chemotherapy drug docetaxel worked for stomach cancer or oesophageal cancer that had come back after treatment. The trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors often treat stomach or oesophageal cancer with chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin and 5FU. But unfortunately the cancer often continues to grow, or comes back soon after finishing treatment. Doctors were not sure what the best treatment was for people in this situation.
In this trial, they looked at a drug called docetaxel. Doctors already use docetaxel to treat other types of cancer. Early studies had shown that it might help people with advanced stomach or oesophageal cancer.
The people taking part had either
- Treatment for symptoms
- Treatment for symptoms and docetaxel
The aim of the trial was to find out which was better for people with advanced stomach or oesophageal cancer that had come back within 6 months of having chemotherapy.
Summary of results
The researchers found that on average people who had docetaxel lived longer than people who just had treatment to control symptoms.
The trial recruited 168 people who had stomach or oesophageal cancer that had come back after chemotherapy. It was a randomised trial. The people taking part were put into groups at random. Neither they, nor their doctor could decide which group they were in.
The researchers looked at the average length of time people lived. They found this was
- Over 5 months for people who had docetaxel and symptom control
- Just over 3 and a half months for people who had symptom control alone
They also looked at people’s
You have chemotherapy in cycles of treatment. The treatment plan in this trial was for people having docetaxel to have 6 cycles of treatment. About a third of the people having docetaxel had to stop the treatment due to side effects and only about 1 in 4 people (23%) were able to complete all 6 cycles of treatment.
As the people who had docetaxel lived longer on average than the people who had symptom control alone, the researchers suggest this can be recommended as a
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 Hugo Ford
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/07/013.