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 for children and young people with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL99, NHL 2000 06)
This trial looked at chemotherapy treatment for children with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This trial was for children and young people up to and including the age of 21.
In this trial, some children and young people had a low dose of methotrexate slowly through a drip into a vein, and also had some of the drug given into the fluid around their spinal cord (
Another drug that can be part of the treatment plan for ALCL is vinblastine.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- If the dose of methotrexate and the way it was given affected the outcome of treatment
- Whether adding the chemotherapy drug vinblastine to the treatment plan helped to stop ALCL coming back in children and young people who were considered to be at high risk of relapse
Summary of results
The trial team found that the dose of methotrexate and the way it is given didn’t affect the length of time that children and young people lived after treatment.
They also found that adding vinblastine did help to stop ALCL coming back in the 1st year, but after 2 years this effect was lost.
This was an international randomised trial. The children and young people taking part were put into treatment groups at random. Neither they nor their doctor could decide which group they were in.
- 175 had low dose methotrexate followed by the intrathecal injection
- 177 had the higher high dose of methotrexate without the intrathecal injection
The trial team looked at the number of children and young people who were still alive after 2 years. They found this was more than 9 out of 10 people in both groups.
But the side effects were worse in those having the low dose and intrathecal injection. So the researchers concluded it was better to give the higher dose of methotrexate without the injection into the spine.
To look at the effect of vinblastine, 217 children and young people who had ALCL considered to be at high risk of coming back were also randomised into 2 other treatment groups. Both groups had chemotherapy. One group had vinblastine as part of this treatment, the other group didn’t.
The trial team looked at the number of children and young people who were living without any signs of their lymphoma coming back 1 year after treatment and again after 2 years.
At 1 year after treatment, they found it was
- More than 7 out of 10 (74%) who didn’t have vinblastine
- More than 9 out of 10 (91%) who did have vinblastine
But 2 years after treatment, there wasn’t any
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 Denise Williams
Cancer Research UK Children's Cancer Trials Team
University of Birmingham
Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)