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 chemotherapy and thalidomide for advanced non small cell lung cancer (LLCG Study 14)
Doctors often treat lung cancer with radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy, depending on the stage of the cancer. Surgery or radiotherapy may not be not suitable for people with advanced lung cancer. People in this situation usually have chemotherapy to try to control the growth of the cancer.
Thalidomide is a drug that stops cancer growing new blood vessels. Doctors call this type of treatment anti angiogenic. Early research looking at anti angiogenic drugs such as thalidomide for non small cell lung cancer showed that it might be a useful treatment.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- If chemotherapy and thalidomide is better at controlling cancer growth than chemotherapy alone
- More about side effects and
quality of life
Summary of results
The trial team found that the people who had chemotherapy and thalidomide did no better overall than the people who had chemotherapy alone.
This trial recruited 722 people. Everyone had up to 4 cycles of treatment with gemcitabine and carboplatin chemotherapy. And then
- Half had thalidomide for up to 2 years
- Half had a dummy drug (
placebo) for up to 2 years
The researchers analysed the results in 2009. They looked at how well the treatments worked. They found no difference between the 2 different groups. But they are still analysing the final results to look for specific people (subgroups) who might benefit from this treatment.
The side effects were similar in both groups. One of the known side effects of thalidomide is an increased risk of getting a blood clot in the leg or lung. So as expected, more people in the thalidomide group had problems with blood clots. But doctors kept a close eye on these patients and treated this side effect straight away.
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 S M Lee
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
London Lung Cancer Group
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)