Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at decitabine and carboplatin for advanced ovarian cancer (DACROC)
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This trial compared a combination of the chemotherapy drugs decitabine and carboplatin with carboplatin alone for ovarian cancer that has come back. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors usually treat ovarian cancer with surgery and then chemotherapy. But sometimes the cancer comes back (relapses) after treatment. If this happens, doctors will probably recommend more chemotherapy.
If the chemotherapy drug carboplatin worked well for you before, your doctor will probably suggest you have it again because your cancer may still be sensitive to it. But unfortunately cancer can become
Research carried out in laboratories had shown that a drug called decitabine could make resistant cancer cells respond to chemotherapy drugs again. It works by changing the activity of some of the genes in the cells. Doctors hoped that adding decitabine would help carboplatin to work better.
The aims of this trial were to
- See how well decitabine works with carboplatin for ovarian cancer that has come back 6 to 12 months after having carboplatin before
- Find out more about the side effects
Summary of results
The research team found that the combination of decitabine and carboplatin did not help women with ovarian cancer that had come back.
The trial team hoped to recruit 134 women with ovarian cancer that had come back 6 to 12 months after treatment. To begin with they recruited 29. Out of these,
- 14 women had carboplatin alone
- 15 women had carboplatin and decitabine
The first 4 women who had both drugs had the full dose of decitabine. But the trial team found that this caused too many side effects. So the next 11 women in this group had a lower dose of decitabine.
The trial team had planned to look at the results at this stage to see how well the treatment was working. They found that the cancer had responded to treatment in
- 9 out of 14 women who had carboplatin alone
- None of the 4 women who had carboplatin and the higher dose of decitabine
- 3 out of 11 women who had carboplatin and the lower dose of decitabine
These interim results showed that decitabine doesn’t help carboplatin to work in this group of patients, and it might in fact make it less effective. They also found that decitabine caused some serious side effects, including more of a drop in white blood cells causing an increased risk of infection and possibly an increase in allergic reactions to carboplatin. So they decided to stop the trial and not recruit any more women.
The trial team concluded that decitabine was difficult to give in the way it was given in this study. It caused more serious side effects than carboplatin alone, and it didn’t help carboplatin to work better in this group of patients.
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
Professor Stan Kaye
Cancer Research UK (Centre for Drug Development)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKD/07/065.