A trial looking at chemotherapy for advanced cancer of the penis (EORTC 30992)

Cancer type:

Penile cancer




Phase 2

This trial was looking at a combination of the chemotherapy drugs irinotecan and cisplatin to treat advanced cancer of the penis (penile cancer).

Doctors often treat early stage cancer of the penis with surgery. Men may have radiotherapy and chemotherapy as well, depending on the stage.

If penile cancer spreads to the surrounding tissues (locally advanced cancer) or to another part of the body (metastatic cancer) it can be more difficult to treat. Advanced penile cancer is very rare, so there haven’t been very many clinical trials to find out which treatment is best.

Doctors thought that a combination of 2 chemotherapy drugs called irinotecan (Campto) and cisplatin might be useful for advanced penile cancer. Both irinotecan and cisplatin were already licensed in the UK. But they were not usually given together, or for penile cancer.

The aims of this trial were to

  • Find out how well the combination of irinotecan and cisplatin worked for advanced penile cancer
  • Learn more about the side effects

Summary of results

The trial team found that penile cancer responded to this combination of chemotherapy drugs in less than a third of the men in the trial.

The trial recruited 28 men with advanced penile cancer.

  • In 2 men, the cancer disappeared – researchers call this a complete response Open a glossary item
  • In 6 men, the cancer got smaller – researchers call this a partial response Open a glossary item
  • In 8 men, the cancer stayed the same size – researchers call this stable disease Open a glossary item
  • In 10 men the cancer continued to grow
  • The researchers did not have results for 2 men

Side effects included diarrhoea and a drop in the number of blood cells.

7 men had cancer that had spread to their lymph nodes Open a glossary item, but not to other parts of the body. They had surgery to remove their lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy) after the chemotherapy. In 3 of these men, there was no longer any sign of cancer in the lymph nodes when they were removed. So, even though this chemotherapy did not work very well for men with penile cancer that had spread, the researchers think it should be looked at in other trials for men who have locally advanced 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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial 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

Professor Tim Oliver

Supported by

European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

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

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 449

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:

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