A trial looking at giving darbepoetin alfa to people with non small cell lung cancer

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Non small cell lung cancer




Phase 3

This is a trial looking at giving darbepoetin alfa to people with non small cell lung cancer who are having chemotherapy.

Doctors often treat non small cell lung cancer with chemotherapy. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is a drop in red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. If your red blood cells are low you can feel tired and breathless. Doctors call this anaemia.

Doctors can treat this by giving you a blood transfusion through a drip into a vein. They can also treat it by giving you a red blood cell growth factor (erythropoietin). These red blood cell growth factors help your body make more of its own red blood cells. Darbepoetin alfa is red blood cell growth factor.

The aims of this trial are to find out

  • How safe it is to give darbepoetin alfa
  • Can darbepoetin alfa help people with non small cell lung cancer
  • If darbepoetin alfa can lessen the need for blood transfusions

Who can enter

You can enter this trial if

  • You have non small cell lung cancer in both lungs or that has spread to other parts of your body or has caused a fluid collection around your lungs or heart that contains cancer cells (stage 4)
  • You are having chemotherapy for the first time (first line treatment) to treat your cancer, and are to have at least 2 more cycles of treatment  after agreeing to take part in the trial
  • You are having chemotherapy and your full blood count test shows your haemoglobin Open a glossary item count is 11 or less
  • Your other blood test results are satisfactory
  • You are fully active and able to carry out your normal daily activities (performance status 0, 1)
  • You are 18 years or older

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Have had treatment for your non small cell lung cancer before
  • Are known to have other medical conditions that can cause low numbers of red blood cells (anaemia) - your doctor can advise you about this
  • Have had treatment with erythropoietin (EPO) to increase your red blood cell count in the last 28 days
  • Have had EPO treatment before that has failed
  • Are not able to have EPO treatment
  • Have had a blood transfusion within 4 weeks of starting treatment with darbepoetin alfa
  • Have had any other cancer, unless it has been successfully treated and there has been no sign of it returning for at least 3 years (if you have had non melanoma skin cancer that has been removed completely with surgery or carcinoma in situ of the cervix that has been treated successfully within 3 years you can still enter this trial)
  • Have cancer that has spread to your brain
  • Have high blood pressure that cannot be controlled with medication
  • Have heart problems that cannot be controlled with medication
  • Have had a heart attack in the last 6 months
  • Have taken medication to stop fits in the last 30 days
  • Are known to be HIV positive
  • Are known to have hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Have problems with blood clots, like deep vein thrombosis (DTV), in the last 6 months
  • Have another medical condition that could affect you taking part in this trial

Trial design

This is an international phase 3 trial. It will recruit about 3,000 people from different countries around the world. It is a randomised trial. The people taking part are put into one of 2 treatment groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in or be told which group you are in. This is common in clinical trials and is called a double blind trial.

Group 1 in this trial will have darbepoetin alfa. Group 2 will have a dummy treatment (placebo). Of those entering the trial, 2 out of every 3 will be in group 1, and so have darbepoetin alfa.

You have darbepoetin alfa, or placebo, after each 3 week cycle of chemotherapy. You have darbepoetin alfa, or placebo, as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection).

If you take part in this trial, the researchers will ask your permission to take samples of tissue from when you had a biopsy Open a glossary item. These samples will be stored safely and may be used in the future, but for research purposes only.

Hospital visits

You will see the doctor and have a number of tests before taking part in this trial. These tests include

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Scan Open a glossary item

You will see the doctor every 3 weeks to have a physical examination and blood test. And you will have a scan every 9 weeks, until your cancer begins to grow again.

You will then see the doctor every 3 months.

Side effects

The most common side effects of darbepoetin alfa are

  • A build up of fluid in the body causing general swelling (oedema)
  • Blood clots
  • Skin rash
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain at the site of injection

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

Dr Steven Bellamy

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 4259

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.”

Last reviewed:

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