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 treatment after surgery for kidney cancer (HYDRA)
This trial looked at using the drugs fluorouracil, interleukin 2 and interferon alpha after surgery to see if they could help improve the treatment outcome for kidney cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors thought that giving some people treatment after surgery may help stop the cancer coming back. But they were not sure how well this would work. All treatments have some side effects, so it is important that people don’t have treatments they don’t need.
In this trial, one group of people had the biological therapies interleukin 2 (IL-2, or aldesleukin) and interferon alpha (IFN), and the chemotherapy drug fluorouracil (5FU). The other group didn’t have any treatment after surgery, but had the usual care and follow up.
The aim of the trial was to find out if having the trial treatment after surgery helped stop renal cell cancer coming back.
Summary of results
The trial team found that having this treatment after surgery did not help stop renal cell cancer coming back.
This trial recruited 309 people. After surgery to remove their renal cell cancer, they were put into 1 of 2 groups. There were 154 people in group 1 and 155 people in group 2. People in group 1 had treatment with one of the following drugs
- Interleukin 2
- Interferon alpha
People in group 2 had no extra treatment, but had the usual care and follow up after surgery.
Everyone taking part in this trial filled in a questionnaire asking them how they felt and what side effects they had. This is called a quality of life study. After 6 months of follow up there was no difference in the quality of life between the 2 groups.
In group 1, 35 out of every 100 people (35%) didn’t finish their treatment because of side effects.
People were followed up for an average time of just under 6 years.
After 3 years follow up the number of people whose cancer had come back was
- 50 out of every 100 people (50%) in group 1
- 61 out of every 100 people (61%) in group 2
After 5 years follow up the number of people alive were
- 70 out of every 100 people (70%) in group 1
- 63 out of every 100 people (63%) in group 2
The researchers concluded that the difference between the 2 groups could have happened by chance (the results were not
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
Mr Michael Aitchinson
Cancer Research UK
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/98/004.