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 radiotherapy to prevent advanced small cell lung cancer spreading to the brain (EORTC 22993 - 08993)
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Doctors usually treat small cell lung cancer with chemotherapy. Sometimes the cancer can spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body, including the brain.
Earlier trials showed that radiotherapy to the brain could prevent cancer spread in people with limited stage small cell lung cancer. This type of treatment is called prophylactic cranial irradiation, or PCI.
The doctors running this trial wanted to see if radiotherapy to the brain could also be useful in preventing cancer spread in patients with extensive stage small cell lung cancer.
The aim of this trial was to see if radiotherapy can prevent or delay cancer spread to the brain in people with advanced small cell lung cancer.
Summary of results
The trial team found that prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) is useful for preventing advanced small cell lung cancer spreading to the brain.
This trial recruited 287 people
- Half had radiotherapy to the brain
- Half didn’t have radiotherapy to the brain– doctors call this the ‘
The researchers looked at whose cancer had spread to the brain about a year after people joined the trial. They found the risk of the cancer spreading to the brain was just over 1 in 10 people (15%) who had had radiotherapy. This compared with 4 in 10 people (40%) in the control group.
They also looked at how many people lived for more than one year after they joined the trial. They found this was just under 3 in 10 people (27%) who had radiotherapy. This compared with just over 1 in 10 people (13%) in the control group.
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 B J Slotman
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)