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 cediranib for people with advanced biliary tract cancers (ABC 03)
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This trial compared chemotherapy alone with a combination of chemotherapy and a drug called cediranib for cancer of the biliary tract. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Bile duct cancers and gallbladder cancer are known as biliary tract cancers. You may have surgery to remove biliary tract cancer. If the cancer can’t be removed by surgery, comes back after surgery, or spreads to another part of the body, it is called advanced biliary tract cancer and can be difficult to treat.
Doctors usually treat advanced biliary tract cancer with chemotherapy. Cisplatin and gemcitabine are the drugs they most often use. Researchers wanted to find out if adding a drug called cediranib improved treatment.
Cediranib is a type of biological therapy called an anti angiogenic drug. These drugs stop the cancer growing new blood vessels. All cells need a blood supply to grow, so the researchers hoped that cediranib would slow or stop the cancer growing.
The aim of the trial was to find out if having chemotherapy and cediranib together worked better than chemotherapy alone for advanced biliary tract cancers.
Summary of results
The researchers found that cediranib with chemotherapy didn’t help people with advanced biliary cancer live longer.
This was a randomised trial. The 124 people who took part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups. Neither they nor their doctor could choose which group they were in.
- 62 people had cediranib alongside chemotherapy
- 62 people had a dummy drug (
placebo) alongside chemotherapy
The average length of time people lived without the cancer getting worse was
- 8 months for those who had cediranib
- Just over 7 months for those who had the dummy drug
The average length of time people lived was
- Just over 14 months for those who had cediranib
- Just under 12 months for those who had the dummy drug
The researchers found that advanced biliary tract cancers shrank more when people had cediranib with chemotherapy. They found that the cancer had got smaller (responded) in
- 26 people who had cediranib alongside chemotherapy
- 10 people who had the dummy drug alongside chemotherapy
The main side effects of adding cediranib to chemotherapy were
- High blood pressure
The trial team concluded that advanced biliary cancers responded better when cediranib was added to chemotherapy. But it didn’t increase the amount of time people lived without their cancer getting worse, or significantly increase the amount of time they lived overall.
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 Juan Valle
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London (UCL)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/09/029.