A trial looking at carboplatin, gemcitabine and vandetanib for advanced transitional cell cancer that has spread (TOUCAN)

Cancer type:

Bladder cancer
Kidney cancer
Transitional cell cancer




Phase 2

This trial was for people with transitional cell cancer that had grown into surrounding tissue (locally advanced) or spread elsewhere in the body. 

Cancer Research UK supported this trial.

More about this trial

Transitional cells Open a glossary item (also called urothelial cells) are a part of the urinary system Open a glossary item. You can get transitional cell cancer in the kidney, bladder or ureters.

Chemotherapy is the usual treatment for advanced transitional cell cancer. One of the usual treatments is chemotherapy with cisplatin and gemcitabine. Some people aren’t suitable to have this, so they might have carboplatin and gemcitabine instead. Doctors wanted to improve treatment for this group of people. In this trial they looked at a drug called vandetanib.

Vandetanib is a type of biological therapy Open a glossary item called a cancer growth blocker. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow. 

Researchers thought that adding vandetanib to carboplatin and gemcitabine might work better than carboplatin and gemcitabine alone. But they wanted to find out more.

The aims of this trial were to find out: 

  • how well carboplatin, gemcitabine and vandetanib work for advanced transitional cell cancer
  • how safe it was and to learn more about the side effects

Summary of results

The trial team found that having vandetanib alongside carboplatin and gemcitabine wasn’t a useful treatment for advanced transitional cell cancer. Although the combination was safe, vandetanib caused additional side effects with no added benefits. 

82 people took part in the trial. They were put into 1 of 2 groups at random

  • 42 had carboplatin, gemcitabine and a dummy drug Open a glossary item 
  • 40 had carboplatin, gemcitabine and vandetanib

Everyone had up to 6 (21 day) cycles of treatment. 

The trial team looked at the average length of time people lived without signs of their cancer getting worse. Researchers call this progression free survival. They found this was:

  • just under 9 (8.8) months in the people who had the dummy drug
  • just under 7 (6.8) months in the people who had vandetanib

They also looked at how long people lived for after treatment. They found that on average this was:

  • just under 14 (13.8) months in the people who had the dummy drug
  • just under 11 (10.8) months in the people who had vandetanib

People who had vandetanib had more problems with:

  • a drop in white blood cells Open a glossary item and platelets Open a glossary item 
  • a cough
  • lung infections
  • low levels of calcium in the blood
  • muscle and joint pain
  • skin rash and sensitivity to sunlight
  • sleeping problems

Despite the side effects, it was safe to have vandetanib with carboplatin and gemcitabine. However it did result in people having treatment for a shorter time and having a lower dose. Fewer people in the vandetanib group completed the full course of chemotherapy.

The trial team concluded that vandetanib wasn’t a useful treatment alongside carboplatin and gemcitabine for people with advanced transitional cell cancer who can’t have cisplatin. 

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Rob Jones

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Cardiff University
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Wales Cancer Trials Unit (WCTU)
National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/09/024.

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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