A trial looking at vaccine treatment after surgery for melanoma skin cancer (EORTC 18961)

Cancer type:

Skin cancer




Phase 3

This trial looked at 2 vaccines to see if they could help stop melanoma coming back after surgery.

Melanoma is usually treated with surgery. But for some people, there is a risk that the melanoma will come back. Doctors are always looking at new treatments to try to prevent this.

One new treatment is a cancer vaccine. Cancer vaccine research is still in its early stages. But they have shown some promise as a possible new treatment. Vaccines may help the immune system kill cancer cells.

The aim of this trial was to find out if giving 2 vaccines after surgery could help stop the melanoma coming back. The vaccines were called GM2-KLH and QS21.

Summary of results

The trial team found that the vaccines GM2-KLH and QS21 did not stop melanoma coming back after surgery.

This trial recruited 1,314 people. There were 2 groups those who

  • Had the vaccines
  • Did not

After an average follow up of just under 2 years the researchers found that more people were living in the group that did not have the vaccines. And that melanoma spread occurred in more people who had the vaccines.

At the start of each trial a data monitoring committee (DMC) is set up to look at the safety of the trial and to check how it is going.

Based on the recommendations of the DMC, the trial team stopped giving the vaccines to people in this trial.

The trial team concluded that the vaccines could not stop melanoma coming back after surgery. And that it may be harmful to give to some people who have had melanoma.

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) but may not have been 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 Angus Dalgleish

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

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