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 imatinib after surgery for gastrointestinal stromal tumours (EORTC 62024)
A gastrointestinal tumour (GIST) is a rare type of
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.
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
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
- 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 (
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.
Professor P Woll
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)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/05/023.