“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”
A trial looking at dovitinib for breast cancer that has spread
We know that this is an especially worrying time for people with cancer and their family and friends. We have separate information about coronavirus and cancer. Please read that information alongside this page. We will update that information as guidance changes.
This trial looked at a drug called dovitinib for breast cancer that had spread to another part of the body. The trial was for women who have
If breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, it is called secondary breast cancer. Doctors can give treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, but the cancer may get worse. So researchers are looking for ways to help women in this situation.
In this trial, they looked at a drug called dovitinib (also known asTKI258). Dovitinib is a type of biological therapy. It is a cancer growth blocker. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow.
In some breast cancers, there is a large amount of a protein called fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 or FGFR1. Research in the laboratory had shown that dovitinib could stop cancer cells growing if they had large amounts of FGFR1.
The aims of this trial were to
- See if dovitinib helps women who have secondary breast cancer with either a normal level or a large amount of FGFR1
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The researchers found that dovitinib didn’t work for women with a normal level of the FGFR1 protein. But it could possibly help some women with too much of the protein.
81 women took part in the trial. They had all had a lot of treatment and had breast cancer that had spread to a number of different places in their bodies.
Before having treatment, the researchers tested a sample of cancer to check for the amount of the FGFR 1 protein.
When the researchers looked at the results of the tissue samples they found that,
- 25 women had cancer with a large amount of FGFR1
- 56 women had cancer with a normal level of FGFR1
The researchers then looked at whether or not the cancers responded to dovitinib. The cancer didn’t disappear in any of the women taking part. In 3 of the women who had a large amount of FGFR1, it looked as if the cancer responded initially, but this could not be confirmed in second assessment a few weeks later. In another 2 women with large amounts of FGFR1, the cancer didn’t get any bigger for at least 24 weeks.
The most common side effects of dovitinib were feeling or being sick, diarrhoea, and muscle weakness.
The researchers concluded that dovitinib could possibly help the group of women who had breast cancer with large amounts of the FGFR1 protein. But it wouldn’t help women who have cancer with a normal level of the protein. So doctors should know their FGFR1 status before giving dovitinib. They suggest that future trials should test dovitinib alongside a hormone therapy as this type of treatment may work best when it is combined with another drug.
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 Nick Turner
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer