A trial looking at imatinib after surgery for gastrointestinal stromal tumours (EORTC 62024)

Cancer type:

Sarcoma
Soft tissue sarcoma

Status:

Results

Phase:

Phase 3

This trial was trying to find out if drug called imatinib (Glivec) could stop or delay a gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) from coming back after surgery.

A gastrointestinal tumour (GIST) is a rare type of sarcoma Open a glossary item that is found in the digestive system Open a glossary item.

Most people who have a GIST will have surgery to remove it and this may cure it completely. But sometimes the cancer will begin to grow again. It may come back in the same place, or it may start to grow somewhere else in the body.

Imatinib is a type of biological therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor or TKI. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow.

People who have a GIST that cannot be removed with surgery have treatment with imatinib. It often shrinks the tumour, helping to relieve symptoms. And it helps these people to live longer. But doctors didn’t know if it would also help people who'd had a GIST removed with surgery.

Having a treatment after surgery to try to stop cancer coming back is called adjuvant treatment Open a glossary item.

The aims of this trial were to

  • See if imatinib after surgery could help to stop or delay a GIST from coming back
  • Learn more about the side effects

Summary of results

The researchers found that in the first few years after surgery, GIST came back in fewer people who had imatinib.

The trial recruited 908 people

  • Half had no further treatment after surgery
  • Half had imatinib

The trial team found that more than 1 in 6 people (17%) who took imatinib stopped the treatment because of side effects or because they didn’t want to carry on taking it.

The researchers looked at the number of people who were living without any signs of their sarcoma having come back after 3 years. They found this was

  • More than 6 out of 10 people (66%) who had no further treatment
  • More than 8 out of 10 people (84%) who had imatinib

After an average follow up period of nearly 5 years, they looked at the number of people whose tumours hadn’t become resistant Open a glossary item to imatinib. They found this was

  • 84% of people who had no further treatment after surgery (though they may have had imatinib if their sarcoma came back)
  • 87% of people who had imatinib after surgery

They also looked at the number of people who were still alive after 5 years and found this was

  • 99% of people who had no further treatment after surgery
  • 100% of people who had imatinib after surgery

The trial team concluded that 2 years of adjuvant imatinib helped to stop GIST coming back in the short term (3 to 5 years).

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

Professor P Woll

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/05/023.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 604

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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