"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”
A trial of chemoradiotherapy with or without cetuximab for oesophageal cancer (SCOPE1)
This trial was looking at a drug called cetuximab alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer of the food pipe (oesophageal cancer). The trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
If oesophageal cancer has not spread to other parts of your body, your doctors may suggest that you have a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This is called chemoradiotherapy.
This trial looked at having cetuximab as well as chemoradiotherapy. Cetuximab is a type of biological therapy, called a monoclonal antibody.
The aims of the trial were to
- See if adding cetuximab to chemoradiotherapy helped people with oesophageal cancer
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The trial team found that adding cetuximab to chemoradiotherapy did not help people with oesophageal cancer and caused more side effects.
The trial recruited 258 people with oesophageal cancer that hadn’t spread to other parts of the body. Their average age was 67. It was a randomised trial. The people taking part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups at random. Neither they nor their doctor could choose which group they were in.
Everybody had the chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and capecitabine as well as 5 weeks of radiotherapy. Half the people taking part also had cetuximab.
The committee set up to monitor the safety of the trial (the data monitoring committee) analysed some early results from the first 180 people recruited to the trial.
They looked at how many people were alive with no signs of cancer in their food pipe or elsewhere in their body 12 weeks after finishing treatment. They found this was
- 79 out of 119 people who had chemoradiotherapy and cetuximab
- 93 out of 121 people who had chemoradiotherapy only
As these results showed that adding cetuximab was not helping, they stopped recruiting people to the trial. But the trial team continued to follow up the people who had already joined.
They found that on average, the overall length of time people lived was
- Just over 22 months in the group of people who had chemoradiotherapy and cetuximab
- Over 25 months in the group who had chemoradiotherapy alone
They also found that people who had cetuximab had more side effects, particularly skin problems. And more people in the cetuximab group stopped having chemoradiotherapy because of side effects or illness than in the chemoradiotherapy only group.
The trial team concluded that adding cetuximab to chemoradiotherapy cannot be recommended as treatment for oesophageal cancer.
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
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Tom Crosby
Cancer Research UK
Department of Health
Health and Care Research Wales
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Merck Serono UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
Velindre NHS Trust
Wales Cancer Trials Unit
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/07/003.