A study comparing 2 talking therapies for people having treatment for cancer symptoms (CanACT)

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

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This study is comparing 2 talking therapies for people having treatment to control the symptoms of their cancer.

More about this trial

People with advanced cancer Open a glossary item often have treatment to help with their symptoms. This study is looking at ways that people can also be supported psychologically.  Supporting people psychologically could improve their quality of life.

Researchers want to look at 2 talking therapies

  • Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Talking control (TC)

ACT is a cognitive behaviour therapy. It can help people when they experience negative emotions and thoughts.

Talking control encourages people to express how they feel.

The aims of this study are to

  • See if people are willing to take part in this type of research
  • See how practical it is to offer these therapies
  • See how useful these therapies are

The results from this study will also inform the researchers if a larger study should take place.

Who can enter

The following bullet points list the entry conditions for this study. If you are unsure about any of these speak with your doctor or the study team. They will be able to advise you.

You may be able to join this study if all of the following apply. You

  • Have been diagnosed with advanced cancer and you can’t have any treatment to cure your cancer
  • Have been assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Scale (FACT-G) and have a score of 81 or less. The researchers will complete this before you can take part.
  • Are aged 18 or older

You cannot join this study if any of these apply. You

  • Are currently having cognitive behaviour therapy including ACT
  • Are unable to understand English fully enough to engage with ACT

Trial design

This is a randomised study. The people taking part are put into groups by a computer. Neither you or your doctor can decide which group you are in.

The researchers need 54 people to take part. You will be asked to take part if you are attending the day centre at one of the following hospices in north and east London

  • Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead
  • St John's Hospice: The hospice of the hospital of St John & St Elizabeth, St John’s Wood
  • St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney

If you agree to take part you meet with a member of the research team. They will ask you some questions about your everyday life and your health. This will take around an hour.

Then you are put into one of 2 groups

  • Your usual treatment and talking control
  • Your usual treatment and ACT

CanACT Study Diagram

You have 8 sessions with a trained specialist. The sessions will take place at your local day hospice within a period of 3 months.

At the end of the 3 months you can give your feedback about the experience.

You complete some questionnaires before you start therapy, 6 weeks after you start therapy and then at

  • 3 months
  • 4 ½ months
  • 6 months

You can answer the questionnaire in person with the researcher or over the phone.

Hospital visits

You go to the local day hospice every week for a 1 hour session with a trained therapist. You have 8 sessions in total. The sessions can take place over a 3 month period in case you are not able to make a session every week.

Side effects

Taking part in this study should not cause any side effects. But there will be a time commitment if you take part. And some people may find some of the questions and therapy difficult. The researchers are aware of this and can provide any support needed.

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 Marc Serfaty

Supported by

Marie Curie
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme
University College London

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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