“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A trial looking at gefitinib for non small cell lung cancer
This trial looked at gefitinib as the first treatment for advanced non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Doctors often treat advanced non small cell lung cancer with chemotherapy. But it doesn’t always work very well. Doctors hoped that gefitinib (Iressa) would work better for some patients and have fewer side effects.
Gefitinib is a type of biological therapy called a cancer growth blocker. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow. In this trial, researchers were looking to see if gefitinib works for cancers that have a change (mutation) in receptors called epidermal growth factor receptors, or EGFRs.
They wanted to see how well gefitinib works in particular for people who are Caucasian (people of European, North African or Middle Eastern descent) and who have not had treatment for advanced lung cancer before. This is because the research team thought that gefitinib would work well in this group of people. When this trial was done, there hadn’t been many other trials done that looked specifically at Caucasian people.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- How well gefitinib works for Caucasian people who have non small cell lung cancer with an EGFR mutation
- More about the side effects
Summary of results
The research team found that gefitinib was effective for Caucasian people with advanced non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
This trial recruited 118 people with NSCLC which had an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation. The trial team were able to look at the results for 106 of them. Everyone taking part had gefitinib tablets once a day until their cancer started to grow again, or they had very serious side effects.
The research team found that the cancer
- Went away in 2 people (2%)
- Got smaller in 72 people (68%)
- Stayed the same in 22 people (21%)
- Continued to grow in 10 people (9%)
They found that on average, the cancer started to grow again after about 10 months. And that 7 out of 10 people (70%) were living a year after treatment.
Gefitinib did cause some side effects, but most were classed as mild. The most common side effects were rash, diarrhoea, feeling or being sick, weakness, cough and dry skin.
The trial team concluded that gefitinib was an effective treatment for Caucasian people who had non small cell lung cancer with an EGFR mutation. And that it didn’t cause too many side effects.
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.
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer