A trial of chemotherapy with or without thalidomide in small cell lung cancer (LLCG study 12)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer




Phase 3

This trial was looking at carboplatin and etoposide chemotherapy, with or without thalidomide, to treat small cell lung cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Small cell lung cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy. But treatments still need to be improved. This trial was testing chemotherapy given with or without thalidomide to see which was better at controlling the disease.

All cancers need a blood supply, so they can grow. Thalidomide is a type of biological therapy that works by stopping tumours growing their own blood vessels. By doing this, thalidomide may help stop cancer from growing.

The aims of this trial were to find out

  • If adding thalidomide to carboplatin and etoposide helped people with small cell lung cancer
  • The side effects of having thalidomide
  • What effect the treatment had on quality of life

Summary of results

The trial team found that there was no benefit of adding thalidomide to carboplatin and etoposide to treat people with small cell lung cancer. And those having thalidomide had an increased risk of blood clots.

This trial recruited 724 people. Everyone had carboplatin and etoposide. Half the people also had a dummy drug (placebo Open a glossary item) and the other half had thalidomide.

There was no difference in the average survival times for the 2 groups.

Of the 365 people taking thalidomide, 68 (19%) developed blood clots, while blood clots developed in 35 (10%) of the 359 people taking the dummy drug.

Those taking thalidomide also had more constipation, skin rashes and nerve problems (neuropathy).

The research team did not find any major differences in the quality of life between the 2 groups.

The research team concluded that the addition of thalidomide did not improve the survival of people with small cell lung cancer, but did increase the risk of these people developing blood clots.

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:

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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

Dr S M Lee

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/02/004.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 225

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

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

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