A trial looking at pazopanib for transitional cell urothelial tract cancer (PLUTO)

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Cancer type:

Bladder cancer
Kidney cancer
Transitional cell cancer




Phase 2

This trial looked at pazopanib for transitional cell cancer of the urinary tract that either hadn’t gone away or came back after treatment with chemotherapy. The urinary tract includes the:

Cancer Research UK supported this trial.

More about this trial

The lining of the urinary tract is called the urothelium. It is made up of cells called transitional cells. Cancer that starts in these cells is called transitional cell cancer of the urothelial tract.

Paclitaxel is used to treat cancer of the urothelial tract that has either not gone away or that has come back after treatment. But unfortunately it doesn’t always work very well.

Pazopanib can help people with kidney cancer and researchers wanted to find out if it can help people with urothelial cancer.

Pazopanib is a type of targeted cancer drug called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI for short). TKIs block tyrosine kinase a chemical messenger that sends messages telling cells to divide and grow. Blocking the effect of tyrosine kinase may stop cancer cells growing.

The aims of this study were to find out:

  • if pazopanib was better than paclitaxel at treating urothelial cancer that  has come back or hadn’t gone away
  • more about the side effects 

Summary of results

The trial team found that pazopanib didn’t work any better than paclitaxel for people with transitional urothelial tract cancer that has either come back or hadn’t gone away after chemotherapy.

131 people took part in this phase 2 trial. It was a randomised trial. Everyone was put into 1 of 2 groups. Neither they nor their doctor chose which group they were in.

  • 66 people had pazopanib
  • 65 people had paclitaxel

PLUTO Diagram

The average follow up of people in the trial was 18 months.

The team looked at the average length of time people lived after treatment. They found it was:

  • just under 5 months for people who had pazopanib
  • 8 months for people who had paclitaxel

PLUTO Barchart

They also looked at the average length of time people were free of any sign of cancer after treatment. They found it was just over:

  • 3 months for people who had pazopanib
  • 4 months for people who had paclitaxel

When the Independent Data Monitoring Committee Open a glossary item that supervised the trial reviewed the early data they advised the trial team to close the trial. They advised this because there was no evidence that pazopanib worked any better than paclitaxel. 

The trial team concluded that this trial finally shows that pazopanib by itself shouldn’t be used for everyone with transitional urothelial tract cancer. And different approaches with pazopanib or similar drugs shouldn’t be excluded.

Also a personalised approach to treatment using a substance in the body (biomarker) shouldn’t be disregarded.

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) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. 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 Robert J Jones
Prof Thomas Powles

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Glasgow
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
The Orchid Research Tissue Bank

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/11/021

Questions about cancer? Contact our 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.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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