A trial looking at aprepitant to treat a cough in people with lung cancer (CALC Trial)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Non small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer





This trial was done to find out if a drug called aprepitant can help people who have a cough as a symptom of lung cancer.

More about this trial

Cough is a common symptom of lung cancer. It can affect peoples’ quality of life. In this trial, researchers wanted to see if a drug called aprepitant (Emend) can help.

When this trial was done, doctors were already using aprepitant to control sickness caused by chemotherapy. They hoped it would also be useful for people with lung cancer who have a cough.

People in this trial had both aprepitant and a dummy drug (placebo) at different times. The research team compared how bad their cough was with the different treatments.

The aim of the trial was to find out if aprepitant relieves coughing more than a placebo in people with lung cancer.

Summary of results

The research team found that aprepitant did help people with lung cancer who had a cough.

This trial was open for people to join between 2013 and 2014. The research team presented the results at a conference in 2015.

About this trial/study
The research team recruited 20 people who had lung cancer and a cough. They were put in to one of two treatment groups at random.

Group 1 had aprepitant capsules for 3 days, then no treatment for 3 days, then dummy (placebo) capsules for 3 days.

Group 2 had placebo capsules for 3 days, then no treatment for 3 days, then aprepitant capsules for 3 days.

The research team measured how well aprepitant worked in 3 different ways.
The first was looking at the number of times people coughed per hour (daytime cough frequency). They found it was:
  • 16 coughs per hour before treatment
  • 13 coughs per hour on aprepitant
  • 16 coughs per hour on the placebo
The second was called a visual analogue scale. The people taking part marked how bad their cough was on a scale from 0 (no cough) to 100 (worst cough). The results showed it was:
  • 57 before treatment
  • 41 on aprepitant
  • 50 on the placebo
The third was called the Manchester Cough in Lung Cancer Scale. This measures the impact someone’s cough has on their quality of life. It looks at things like difficulty breathing, sleep, speech and anxiety. The scale goes from 1 (no impact) to 50 (worst impact).
The results showed it was:
  • 25 before treatment
  • 20 on aprepitant
  • 22 on placebo
No one taking part had any side effects.
The research team concluded that aprepitant was helpful for people with a cough caused by lung cancer. All 3 of these scores improved while people were taking aprepitant. 
Where this information comes from
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) but may not have been 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 Fiona Blackhall

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Fellowships Programme
NW Lung Charity
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM)

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

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.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

Rate this page:

No votes yet
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think