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 the drug capecitabine (Xeloda) for neuroendocrine tumours (NET)
Doctors usually treat neuroendocrine tumours with surgery. But if you can’t have surgery, or the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, it can be more difficult to treat. When this happens, doctors often use a combination of chemotherapy including the drug fluorouracil (5FU). You have 5FU through a drip into a vein.
But doctors think that a single drug called capecitabine (Xeloda) may be as good at treating neuroendocrine tumours. Capecitabine is a tablet that the body converts into 5FU. Because capecitabine is a tablet, you can take it at home. Doctors want to see if capecitabine alone works as well as the usual treatments for NET, and if it has fewer side effects.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- How well capecitabine worked for neuroendocrine tumours
- More about the side effects of capecitabine
Summary of results
The trial team found that capecitabine worked well for people with neuroendocrine tumours without causing too many serious side effects.
Of the 20 people recruited in the trial, 19 had at least one course of treatment with capecitabine.
In 13 of these 19 people, the cancer stayed the same (this is called ‘stable disease’) while taking part in the trial. And in 4 of them, the cancer stayed the same for more than 12 months.
Overall from the start of the trial, the people taking part lived on average for over 3 years. The time it took for the cancer to start growing again on average was approximately 10 months.
The worst side effects people had from the capecitabine were diarrhoea, tiredness and short term changes in the way the liver works. Most people also reported a rash and reddening of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. But this was not too severe.
The trial team believe that capecitabine worked well for people with neuroendocrine tumours without causing too many severe side effects and should be considered as another treatment choice for these people.
The results of this trial have formed the basis for a national trial using capecitabine in combination with other drugs in people with neuroendocrine tumours (the NET-01 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 (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr DC Talbot
Prof Nick Reed
Dr David Farrugia
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)