A trial looking at chemotherapy for advanced cancer of the stomach or gastro oesophageal junction that has continued to grow (PEP0206)

Cancer type:

Oesophageal cancer
Stomach cancer




Phase 2

This trial looked at the chemotherapy drugs irinotecan, docetaxel and PEP02 for advanced cancer of the stomach, or cancer where the food pipe (oesophagus) meets the stomach (cancer of the gastro oesophageal junction).

Treatment for cancer of the stomach and treatment for gastro oesophageal junction cancer usually includes chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy, or a combination of these. If your cancer comes back after the first type of chemotherapy, you may have more chemotherapy to help relieve symptoms and slow down cancer growth. Doctors call this further chemotherapy second line treatment.

There is a choice of possible chemotherapy drugs that doctors can use as second line treatment. In this trial, they looked at 3 drugs – irinotecan, docetaxel and PEP02. When the trial was done, irinotecan and docetaxel were already used to treat this type of cancer. PEP02 was a newer form of irinotecan being tested in this trial.

The aims of the trial were find out

Summary of results

This trial showed PEP02 was as good as docetaxel and a little better than irinotecan for advanced cancer of the stomach or gastro oesophageal junction.

This trial recruited 132 people from several countries around the world. Everyone who took part had advanced cancer which had continued to grow despite having other treatment.

The people taking part were put into one of 3 treatment groups at random, so there were 44 people in each group. They all had treatment once every 3 weeks, for as long as it was helping.

  • Group 1 had PEP02
  • Group  2 had irinotecan  
  • Group 3 had docetaxel

The research team looked at how many people’s cancer got smaller. They were able to assess this in 124 people who took part. They found that the cancer got smaller in

  • 6 out of 41 people who had PEP02
  • 3 out of 43 people who had irinotecan
  • 7 out of 40 people who had docetaxel

They also looked at how long it was before the cancer started to grow and how long the people taking part lived for. These were similar in all 3 groups.

When they looked at the side effects, they found that more people who had irinotecan or PEP02 had side effects compared to those who had docetaxel. The most common side effect of PEP02 and irinotecan was diarrhoea. The most common side effect of docetaxel was hair loss.

The research team concluded that in this trial, PEP02 and docetaxel worked about as well as each other, but a little better than irinotecan.

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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

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

Professor David Cunningham

Supported by

NIHR Royal Marsden Biomedical Research Centre 
Peter Stebbings Memorial Charity
PharmaEngine Inc

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer 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.”

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