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 of chemotherapy with or without thalidomide in small cell lung cancer (LLCG study 12)
This trial was looking at carboplatin and etoposide chemotherapy, with or without thalidomide, to treat small cell lung cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Small cell lung cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy. But treatments still need to be improved. This trial was testing chemotherapy given with or without thalidomide to see which was better at controlling the disease.
All cancers need a blood supply, so they can grow. Thalidomide is a type of biological therapy that works by stopping tumours growing their own blood vessels. By doing this, thalidomide may help stop cancer from growing.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- If adding thalidomide to carboplatin and etoposide helped people with small cell lung cancer
- The side effects of having thalidomide
- What effect the treatment had on quality of life
Summary of results
The trial team found that there was no benefit of adding thalidomide to carboplatin and etoposide to treat people with small cell lung cancer. And those having thalidomide had an increased risk of blood clots.
This trial recruited 724 people. Everyone had carboplatin and etoposide. Half the people also had a dummy drug (
There was no difference in the average survival times for the 2 groups.
Of the 365 people taking thalidomide, 68 (19%) developed blood clots, while blood clots developed in 35 (10%) of the 359 people taking the dummy drug.
Those taking thalidomide also had more constipation, skin rashes and nerve problems (neuropathy).
The research team did not find any major differences in the quality of life between the 2 groups.
The research team concluded that the addition of thalidomide did not improve the survival of people with small cell lung cancer, but did increase the risk of these people developing blood clots.
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 S M Lee
Cancer Research UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/02/004.