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 treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver (CLOCC EORTC 40004)
This trial looked at chemotherapy with or without radiofrequency ablation for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
More about this trial
If bowel cancer spreads to another part of the body, it most often spreads to the liver. This is called secondary liver cancer, or liver metastases. You may have chemotherapy to treat secondary liver cancer, or sometimes surgery. But it is often difficult to treat.
In this trial, doctors wanted to see if radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is useful for treating secondary liver cancer that cannot be removed with surgery. RFA uses direct heat to kill cancer cells.
Some people in this trial had chemotherapy alone, and some had chemotherapy and RFA.
The aim of this trial was to see if there is any benefit in having RFA as well as chemotherapy for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.
Summary of results
The research team found that there was no clear benefit in having radiofrequency ablation as well as chemotherapy for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.
This trial recruited 119 people. Of these, 59 had chemotherapy alone and 60 had chemotherapy and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Everyone taking part had the chemotherapy drugs oxaliplatin and fluorouracil (5FU). And those who joined the trial after 2005 also had a biological therapy called bevacizumab (Avastin).
When the research team looked at the most common time for the cancer to start growing again after treatment, they found it was
- Nearly 10 months for the chemotherapy group
- Nearly 17 months for the chemotherapy and RFA group
But they also looked at how many people were living 30 months after treatment. They found that it was similar in each group,
- Just under 6 out of 10 people (58%) in the chemotherapy group
- Just over 6 out of 10 people (62%) in the chemotherapy and RFA group
The research team concluded that the benefit of RFA for secondary liver cancer is not clear from these results. And that they need to follow patients for longer to find out more.
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.
Mr G Poston
Prof J Ledermann
Cancer Research UK
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/03/002.