A trial looking at a vaccine to prevent shingles in people with blood cancers

Cancer type:

Blood cancers




Phase 3

This trial looked at a vaccine called HZ/su to prevent shingles in people who are having or have had treatment for blood cancers. 

Blood cancers include:

This trial was open for people to join between 2013 and 2015. The results were presented at a conference in 2018.

More about this trial

Doctors use chemotherapy or immunotherapy to treat people with leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. A side effect of these treatments can be a drop in white blood cells. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system Open a glossary item that fights infections. A drop in white blood cells can increase your risk of getting an infection.

Shingles is caused by a virus that affects the nerves. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. 

The virus can travel along the nerves to your skin, causing a painful rash and blisters. People having chemotherapy have a greater risk of developing shingles. 

Researchers thought the HZ/su vaccine might prevent shingles in these people.  

The vaccine is made of a piece of the virus that causes shingles and a substance that helps the vaccine to work better. We know from research that the vaccine can help the body’s immune system make antibodies against shingles. This is called an immune response.

In this trial, researchers compared people who had the HZ/su vaccine with those who had a dummy drug (placebo Open a glossary item). They wanted to find out:

  • whether the vaccine produced an immune response
  • how safe the vaccine was

They also looked at how good the immune response to the vaccine was for people with certain types of blood cancer.

Summary of results

The response of the body’s immune system (immune response) was better in those who had the HZ/su vaccine than those who had the dummy drug. 

About this trial
This was a phase 3 trial. 562 people took part in the trial.

It was a randomised trial. Everyone was put into 1 of 2 groups:

  • 283 people had the HZ/su vaccine
  • 279 people had the dummy drug (placebo Open a glossary item)

A month after the 2nd dose of the vaccine or dummy drug the researchers looked at how the people’s immune system responded. People who received the HZ/su vaccine had a much better immune response than those who had the dummy drug. 

Side effects
The most common side effects of the HZ/su vaccine people reported were:

  • pain in the arm where they had the vaccine injection 
  • tiredness (fatigue)

The trial team concluded the immune system responded well to the HZ/su vaccine. And the side effects were manageable. 

Where this information comes from    
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 Andy Peniket

Supported by

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

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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