“I think it’s essential that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A trial looking at different ways of having chemotherapy after surgery for bowel cancer (PACT)
Doctors knew that both ways of having chemotherapy worked about as well as each other. The aims of this trial were to
- Learn more about the side effects of each treatment
- Find out which treatment patients preferred
Summary of results
The researchers found that more people preferred the intravenous chemotherapy.
The researchers planned to recruit 74 people. The people taking part were put into the treatment groups at random. Neither they nor their doctor could decide which treatment they had first. This is called randomisation.
- Half would have had fluorouracil, along with a vitamin called
folinic acidthrough a drip into a vein for 6 weeks, followed by capecitabine tablets for 6 weeks
- Half would have had capecitabine tablets for 6 weeks first, followed by the fluorouracil and folinic acid intravenous chemotherapy
But after 40 people had started treatment, the trial was stopped because capecitabine tablets were causing much worse side effects than chemotherapy through a drip into a vein.
Side effects were particularly bad when people started having capecitabine tablets after they had finished the intravenous chemotherapy. The researchers suggest that doctors need to be cautious if changing people’s treatment from chemotherapy that includes fluorouracil and folinic acid to chemotherapy that includes capecitabine tablets.
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
Professor Matt Seymour
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University of Leeds