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 setting up a trial of chemotherapy for frail and elderly patients with advanced cancer of the food pipe (oesophagus) and stomach (321GO)
This study looked at the possibility of setting up a large phase 3 trial of chemotherapy for frail and elderly patients. It was for people with advanced cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, or the area where the stomach and oesophagus meet (the gastro oesophageal junction). This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors often treat advanced cancer with chemotherapy. But some people are older and not well enough to have full strength chemotherapy. Sometimes doctors give these patients less chemotherapy. But the research team felt that we needed more evidence to decide which treatment option is best.
The aim of this study was to find out if it is practical to do a phase 3 trial testing three types of chemotherapy for frail and elderly patients with advanced oesophageal or stomach cancer.
Summary of results
The research team found that it should be safe and possible to do a phase 3 trial of different chemotherapy options for frail and elderly patients.
The study recruited 55 people with cancer of the oesophagus, stomach or gastro oesophageal junction. They were able to analyse the results of 54 people who took part. Of these,
- 17 had epirubicin, oxaliplatin and capecitabine (EOX)
- 19 had oxaliplatin and capecitabine (OX)
- 18 had capecitabine (X)
The research team looked at the number of people in each group who had severe side effects, had to delay treatment between doses or had to have a reduced dose of chemotherapy. They found it was
- 12 out of 17 people (71%) who had EOX
- 9 out of 19 people (47%) who had OX
- 9 out of 18 people (50%) who had X
They also looked at whether the cancer grew or the health of those taking part had got worse after 3 months of treatment. In other words, at whether their condition remained stable. They found that their condition remained stable for
- 8 out of 16 people who had EOX
- 11 out of 19 people who had OX
- 3 out of 17 people who had X
When they did this analysis January 2012 they were waiting for follow up information about a couple of people.
The research team concluded that it would be feasible to run a larger phase 3 trial looking at treatment options for elderly and frail patients.
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
Prof Matthew Seymour
Cancer Research UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University of Leeds
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/08/033.