"I now know how cancer can strike anyone whatever their situation or circumstance. I hope by taking part in a trial it will help others in my position in the future.”
A trial looking at chemotherapy for testicular cancer (TE3)
We know that this is an especially worrying time for people with cancer and their family and friends. We have separate information about coronavirus and cancer. Please read that information alongside this page. We will update that information as guidance changes.
This trial compared 2 different ways of having a drug called bleomycin for testicular cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
The standard chemotherapy for testicular cancer is a combination of bleomycin, etoposide and cisplatin. This is usually called BEP chemotherapy.
BEP works very well for testicular cancer, and many patients are cured. But bleomycin can cause serious side effects in a small number of patients. It can damage lung tissue and cause shortness of breath. If this happens the doctors may need to lower the dose of bleomycin, or even change to another drug.
Researchers thought that giving bleomycin more slowly may reduce the risk of it causing lung damage. In this trial, they compared bleomycin given over half an hour on 3 separate days (standard treatment), to a slow continuous infusion of bleomycin 24 hours a day, for 3 days.
The aim of this trial was to find out if giving bleomycin continuously for 3 days caused fewer side effects than giving the same dose over a shorter time on 3 separate days. And to see which one of these treatments worked best.
Summary of results
The trial team found that having bleomycin as a slow continuous infusion over 3 days wasn’t any better than the standard way.
This was a phase 3 trial. It recruited 210 people. It was a randomised trial. Everyone had BEP chemotherapy. Half the people had bleomycin the standard way. The other half had bleomycin as a slow infusion over 3 days.
After 1 cycle of treatment with BEP, the researchers looked at the number of people who had side effects. They found that for those who had bleomycin the standard way it was 55 out of every 100 people (55%). And for those who had bleomycin as a slow infusion it was 52 out of every 100 people (52%).
At the end of treatment they again looked at the number of people who had side effects. They found that
- 60 out of every 100 people (60%) who had bleomycin the standard way had side effects
- 84 out of every 100 people (84%) who had bleomycin as a slow infusion had side effects
A year after finishing treatment they looked at the number of people who still had side effects. They found that
- 59 out of every 100 people (59%) who had bleomycin the standard way still had side effects
- 65 out or every 100 people (65%) who had bleomycin as a slow infusion still had side effects
After an average follow up of 2½ years the researchers looked at how many people were alive and free of their cancer. They found that for both groups it was 93 out of every 100 people (93%).
The team also looked at how well the people’s lungs worked after their chemotherapy. When they compared the results of the breathing tests (
The trial team concluded that there was no advantage to having bleomycin as a slow infusion over having it the standard way.
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
Dr Jonathan Shamash
Barts Health NHS Trust
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
The Orchid Cancer Appeal
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/05/011.