“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."
A trial looking at chemotherapy before surgery for breast cancer (Neo-tAnGo trial)
This trial was trying to find the best combination of drugs to treat women who have chemotherapy before surgery for breast cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors sometimes treat breast cancer with chemotherapy before surgery. This is called neo adjuvant chemotherapy. It can help to shrink the cancer before the surgery, so that the operation is easier and the surgeon doesn’t need to remove as much breast tissue.
For this type of treatment, doctors often give chemotherapy drugs called epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide, and sometimes paclitaxel (Taxol). They thought another drug called gemcitabine might also be useful, but they were not sure. And they were not sure which of these drugs they should give first.
The aims of this trial were to find out if adding gemcitabine would help. And to find the best order in which to give the drugs.
Summary of results
The researchers found that having paclitaxel at the beginning of chemotherapy was helpful.
The trial recruited 831 women who had stage 2, 3 or 4 breast cancer. They were put into 4 different treatment groups by a computer (a randomised trial)
- Group 1 had 4 treatment cycles of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (EC) first, followed by 4 cycles of paclitaxel
- Group 2 had paclitaxel first, followed by EC
- Group 3 had 4 cycles EC first, followed by 4 cycles of paclitaxel and gemcitabine
- Group 4 had paclitaxel and gemcitabine first, followed by EC
In some women, all signs of cancer disappeared from the breast and lymph nodes under the arm. Doctors call this a
In 2013 some more long term results were published. The trial team had followed up the women for an average period of nearly 4 years. At this point, they found there was no significant difference in how long women in the different groups were living without any signs of their cancer coming back. And there was also no significant difference in the average length of time that women in the different groups were living overall.
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 Helena Earl
Cancer Research UK
Eli Lilly and Company Limited
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/04/007.