“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A trial of erlotinib and pemetrexed for non small cell lung cancer in non smokers
This trial was looking at having either erlotinib, pemetrexed, or a combination of both for non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that had spread.
Doctors use surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat non small cell lung cancer. But sometimes the cancer continues to grow or comes back after treatment. In this situation, you may have chemotherapy or a type of biological therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
In this trial researchers were comparing treatments for locally advanced lung cancer, or lung cancer that had spread to another part of the body (
- A chemotherapy drug called pemetrexed
- A biological therapy drug called erlotinib
- A combination of both drugs
The aims of the trial were to
- Find out which treatment worked best for non small cell lung cancer
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The trial team found having a combination of pemetrexed and erlotinib worked best. People having both drugs did have more side effects but these were manageable.
The trial recruited 240 people who were put into 1 of 3 groups at random. Neither they nor their doctors could decide which group they were in.
- 78 people had pemetrexed and erlotinib
- 82 had erlotinib alone
- 80 had pemetrexed alone
The trial team looked at the average length of time that people lived without any signs of the cancer growing. They found this was
- 7.4 months for those who had pemetrexed and erlotinib
- 3.8 months for those who had erlotinib alone
- 4.4 months for those who had pemetrexed
The main side effects were
- A drop in the number of blood cells leading to an increased risk of infection and
- Skin rash
The number of people who had bad side effects was highest in the group having pemetrexed and erlotinib.
The findings from this trial show that those having treatment with pemetrexed and erlotinib lived longer without signs of their cancer growing. But these people also had more severe side effects from their treatment.
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 Mayukh Das
Eli Lilly and Company Limited
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)