A study looking at how genes may affect breast cancer chemotherapy (AC PK Study)

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This study looked at genes to try and find a link with how the body handles chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Doctors call studies looking at how the body handles drugs pharmacokinetic (PK) Open a glossary item studies. In this study, people gave blood samples before, during and after chemotherapy so the research team could measure the amount of drug in it, and look for variations in their genes.

Genes are coded information that tells cells how to behave. They control growth and development of the body. Researchers wanted to find out if differences in genes affect how people get rid of chemotherapy drugs from the bloodstream.

The aims of the study were to

  • Measure and compare the levels of chemotherapy in blood samples from people taking part
  • Look for genes that may affect these levels, and see if there is a link

Summary of results

The research team found that genes had little influence on how the body handles chemotherapy, but one genetic change had a small effect.

This study recruited 51 people with early stage breast cancer. Everyone taking part had a combination of chemotherapy drugs that included cyclophosphamide and most people had 5-fluorouracil (5FU). 35 people also had epirubicin, and 16 had doxorubicin (Adriamycin).  

The research team took blood samples from the people taking part before chemotherapy, and several times in the 24 hours afterwards. They looked at the level of chemotherapy in the blood. They also looked at variations in genes in the blood sample, to see if they could find a link with how quickly someone’s body processes chemotherapy.

They found that one gene may have a minor influence on how the body gets rid of cyclophosphamide. But overall, differences in genes didn’t seem to affect how people processed chemotherapy.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the study. 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 research 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

Dr Mark Verrill

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust
Northern Institute for Cancer Research

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 1525

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

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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