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 a short, intensive course of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer
This trial for ovarian cancer was looking at different doses of gemcitabine, in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin, followed by an infusion of your own blood stem cells.
Doctors often treat advanced ovarian cancer with chemotherapy. Carboplatin and paclitaxel are the 2 drugs doctors most commonly use. You usually have these drugs in 3 week cycles of treatment. In this trial, the researchers wanted to see if having the drugs in 10 day cycles of treatment and adding a drug called gemcitabine was possible.
They also wanted to find the highest dose of gemcitabine that could be safely given without causing too many side effects. This is called a
High doses of chemotherapy bring about a drop in the number of white blood cells, causing an increased risk of infection. The women taking part in this trial had a drug called G-CSF to boost the number of blood stem cells after each chemotherapy treatment. After having G-CSF for 8 days, the doctors collected a unit of the patient’s blood. Then, one day later, following the next cycle of chemotherapy, they had their stem cells back through a drip (reinfusion). This helped to replace the blood cells that were damaged by chemotherapy.
The aims of the trial were to
- Find the best dose of gemcitabine to use with carboplatin and paclitaxel in 10 day cycles of treatment with stem cell reinfusion
- See if this treatment was possible for women with advanced ovarian cancer
Summary of results
The trial team found that it was possible to give chemotherapy, G-CSF and blood stem cells in 10 day cycles of treatment. The number of white blood cells was maintained, but the number of
The trial recruited 17 women with advanced ovarian cancer
- 13 women completed 6 cycles of treatment
- 3 women stopped treatment early because of side effects
- 1 woman stopped treatment early because her cancer got bigger
- In 6 women, the cancer disappeared – researchers call this a
- In 7 women, the cancer got smaller – researchers call this a
- In 3 women, the cancer stayed the same size – researchers call this
As well as low platelets and liver damage in women having the highest dose of gemcitabine, other side effects included tiredness and shortness of breath.
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
Dr M Nystrom
Dr C Gallagher
Barts Health NHS Trust