A trial looking at irinotecan and carboplatin for small cell lung cancer

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Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer




Phase 1

This trial looked at carboplatin, with different doses of irinotecan, for people with extensive small cell lung cancer.

Doctors usually treat small cell lung cancer with 2 chemotherapy drugs called etoposide and either cisplatin or carboplatin. Lung cancer often responds well to these drugs, but unfortunately it usually comes back later.

We know from research that irinotecan may also help people with small cell lung cancer. Doctors thought the combination of irinotecan and carboplatin might have been a better treatment for small cell lung cancer.

The aims of this trial were to find out

  • The best dose of irinotecan to give with carboplatin
  • What the side effects of this drug combination were
  • How well this treatment worked

Summary of results

The trial team found that the combination of carboplatin and irinotecan did work well for people with extensive small cell lung cancer.

This was a phase 1 trial. It recruited 20 people. Everyone had carboplatin and irinotecan. The dose of carboplatin remained the same. The first few people were given a small dose of irinotecan. As they didn’t have any bad side effects the next few had a higher dose. And so on, until the researcher found the biggest dose they could safely give.

After the people in the trial had finished their treatment, the researchers measured their cancer on a scan. They found that in

  • 1 person the cancer was completely gone – a complete response Open a glossary item
  • 14 people the cancer had shrunk – a partial response Open a glossary item
  • 2 people the cancer had stayed the same – stable disease Open a glossary item
  • 3 people the cancer had continued to grow

The average amount of time it took for the cancer to start growing again was 6 months. The overall average amount of time people lived after treatment was just over 9 months. These results are similar to what doctors would expect for treatment of this disease.

The worst side effects reported were diarrhoea and a drop in blood cells causing an increased risk of infection.

The researchers concluded that the combination of carboplatin and irinotecan was safe to be used in further clinical trials for people with extensive small cell lung cancer. They recommended drug doses to be used in a phase 2 trial.

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

Prof Christian Ottensmeier

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
University of Southampton

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 670

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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