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 to find out how well pazopanib (GW786034) works for soft tissue sarcoma (EORTC 62043)
Some people have a soft tissue sarcoma which cannot be removed with surgery, or which has spread to another part of the body. Doctors usually treat these with chemotherapy. But sometimes the sarcoma continues to grow, or comes back, despite chemotherapy, or sometimes the person cannot have chemotherapy. Doctors are keen to develop new drugs to treat people in this situation.
Cancer cells have receptors on their surface, which encourage blood vessels to grow. When proteins in your body trigger these receptors, the cancer cells make their own blood vessels. This is called angiogenesis. The blood vessels bring food and oxygen to the cancer, so it can keep growing.
Pazopanib is a new type of drug that blocks blood vessel formation. It targets specific receptors on the cell surface called vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGF). Pazopanib is called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor because it targets an area of the receptor called the tyrosine kinase area. Doctors hoped that pazopanib would slow down or stop the cancer growing.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- Whether pazopanib was useful for treating soft tissue sarcoma
- More about the side effects of this treatment
- More about how the drug worked
Summary of results
The research team found that pazopanib was useful for treating soft tissue sarcoma and that the side effects were not too bad.
This trial recruited 142 people with different types of soft tissue sarcoma that had continued to grow despite having other types of treatment. Doctors are not sure how best to treat people in this situation. The people in this trial were put into 1 of 4 groups depending upon what type of soft tissue sarcoma they had. The 4 groups were
Everyone taking part in this trial had pazopanib. They continued to take it until their cancer started to grow again (
The researchers looked at the average amount of time that the people in each group had lived after starting treatment. This was
- Just over 6 months for people with liposarcomas
- Just under 12 months for people with leiomyosarcoma
- Just over 10 months for people with synovial sarcomas
- Just under 10 months for people with other types of soft tissue sarcomas
The side effects of pazopanib included
- High blood pressure
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Lightening of hair colour
- Feeling, or being, sick
- A drop in blood cells
- Changes to the liver
Because soft tissue sarcomas that cannot be removed with surgery are so hard to treat, the researchers did think that pazopanib could be useful. So they have started a phase 3 trial that is randomised and double blind comparing pazopanib with a dummy treatment (placebo).
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.
Dr Fiona Cowie
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)