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 study looking at lenalidomide and dexamethasone for myeloma in older people
This trial looked at a drug called lenalidomide and the steroid drug dexamethasone for older people with myeloma. Some younger people who couldn’t have a
In the past, most doctors usually treated myeloma in older people with chemotherapy and steroids. One of the usual treatment combinations is called MPT. MPT is the chemotherapy drug melphalan, the steroid drug prednisolone and a type of biological therapy called thalidomide. But sometimes this treatment stops working or the myeloma comes back. So doctors wanted to improve treatment for this group of people.
More about this trial
In this trial, researchers looked at a drug called lenalidomide and the steroid drug dexamethasone. Lenalidomide is a type of biological therapy.
The trial compared usual MPT treatment with lenalidomide and dexamethasone. The aims of the trial were to
- Find out which treatment controls the myeloma for longer
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The trial team found that lenalidomide and dexamethasone helped older people with myeloma and younger people who couldn’t have a stem cell transplant.
1, 623 people took part in this trial.
- 535 had lenalidomide and dexamethasone for as long as treatment was helping them (doctors call this continuous treatment)
- 541 had lenalidomide and dexamethasone for up to 18 months
- 547 had usual MPT treatment for up to 18 months
The researchers looked at the average length of time people lived without any signs of the myeloma getting worse. Researchers call this progression free survival. This was
- Just over 2 years for people having continuous lenalidomide and dexamethasone
- Just under 21 months for people having lenalidomide and dexamethasone for up to 18 months
- Just over 20 months for people having MPT
The researchers took an early look at how many people were living 4 years after treatment started. Researchers call this overall survival. This was
- Just under 6 out of every 10 people (59%) in the continuous lenalidomide group
- Just under 6 out of every 10 people (56%) in the 18 months of lenalidomide group
- Just over 5 out of every 10 people (51%) in the 18 months of MPT group
When the figures above were analysed, 121 people in the continuous lenalidomide group were still having treatment. So the trial team plan to continue monitoring the people who took part and look at the longer term results in the future. This analysis should be done in Spring 2016.
People in the MPT group had more problems with a drop in blood cells. People having continuous lenalidomide had more infections than the other 2 groups.
The trial team found that continuous lenalidomide and dexamethasone was a useful treatment for myeloma in older people or younger people who couldn’t have a stem cell transplant. They concluded that continuous lenalidomide increased the length of time before myeloma got worse and improved overall survival for these groups of people.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. 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 Jamie Cavenagh