Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial looking at thalidomide for non Hodgkin lymphoma that has come back or is proving hard to treat
Doctors usually treat high grade non Hodgkin lymphoma with chemotherapy, or possibly high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. But sometimes the disease comes back, even after a transplant. So doctors continue to look for new and better treatments.
The aim of this trial was to see if thalidomide could help people with diffuse large B cell lymphoma
- Whose disease had come back within a year of having chemotherapy or chemotherapy and stem cell transplant
- Who did not get a complete remission with chemotherapy
- Who could not have high dose therapy with stem cell transplant either because their NHL was not responding well to chemotherapy or because they were not well enough
Summary of results
The researchers found that thalidomide used on it’s own helped some people with DLBCL but the effect did not last very long.
The study recruited 18 people. Everybody taking part had thalidomide. They had a low dose for one week, then the dose was increased for the next few weeks. After a month, the dose was increased again.
The researchers looked at how the lymphoma had responded after 12 weeks.
- In 2 people, the lymphoma had got a bit better – researchers call this a partial response
- In 3 people, the lymphoma hadn’t got better or worse - researchers call this stable disease
- In 10 people, the lymphoma had got worse
- 1 person pulled out of the trial, and the researchers didn’t have results for 2 people
Unfortunately, when thalidomide did help people, the response did not last very long. After a little less than 6 months (24 weeks), only 2 out of the 5 people whose disease had got better or remained the same after treatment still had stable disease.
As thalidomide helped some people in this study when it was used on it’s own, the researchers suggested that future trials could look at giving it at the same time as other drugs for this type of lymphoma.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Chris Hatton
Dr A. Peniket
Prof Siow Ming Lee
Dr Paul Nathon
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London (UCL)