A trial for small cell lung cancer, looking at chemotherapy with or without pravastatin (LungStar)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer




Phase 3

This trial compared chemotherapy with and without a drug called pravastatin, for people with small cell lung cancer (SCLC). It was supported by Cancer Research UK.

More about this trial

Doctors often treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with chemotherapy drugs such as etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin. But it doesn’t always work as well as they would hope. 

Researchers are looking at other treatments people can have alongside chemotherapy. They hope they can improve the outcome for people with SCLC. In this trial they looked at pravastatin.

Pravastatin belongs to a group of drugs called statins, one of the treatments used to lower cholesterol. Laboratory research had shown that pravastatin may help chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer to work better. Researchers wanted to find out if having pravastatin and chemotherapy together is better than having chemotherapy alone.

The main aim of this trial was to find out if pravastatin and chemotherapy can help people with small cell lung cancer live longer.

Summary of results

This trial showed that pravastatin and chemotherapy did not work better than chemotherapy alone, for people with small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
This trial recruited more than 800 people with SCLC. They were put into 1 of 2 groups at random, and:
  • half had chemotherapy and pravastatin tablets
  • half had chemotherapy and dummy (placebo) tablets
The people taking part had up to 6 cycles of chemotherapy. They had either etoposide and carboplatin, or etoposide and cisplatin. They continued to take pravastatin or placebo tablets every day for 2 years, or until they had severe side effects or their cancer started to grow again.
The trial team looked at how well the treatment worked. They found that the cancer went away or got smaller in just under 7 out of 10 people (69%) in both groups.
They looked at how long it was before the cancer started to grow again, and found it was:
  • 7.7 months for those who had pravastatin
  • 7.3 months for those who had the placebo
They also looked at how long people in each group lived, and it was:
  • 10.7 months for those who had pravastatin
  • 10.6 months for those who had the placebo
Side effects
More than 8 out 10 people (81%) in each group had at least 1 side effect that was classed as severe. The most common of these side effects were:
  • a drop in blood cells
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • pain
  • infection
  • shortness of breath
The trial team concluded that there was no benefit in having pravastatin as well as chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer. But all trial results add to our knowledge and understanding of cancer and how to treat it.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. 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 who did the research. 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 M.J. Seckl

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/06/009.

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.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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