Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial looking at adding new chemotherapy drugs to the standard treatment for ovarian cancer (GO-First)
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This trial was trying to find out if having gemcitabine and oxaliplatin before standard chemotherapy helped women with ovarian cancer.
If ovarian cancer cannot be completely removed with surgery, doctors use chemotherapy to try to control it. Two drugs that are very often used are paclitaxel and carboplatin (the standard treatment). In this trial, the researchers added two more drugs called oxaliplatin and gemcitabine.
The aims of the trial were to
- See if having gemcitabine and oxaliplatin before paclitaxel and carboplatin worked better than the standard treatment
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The researchers found that ovarian cancer responded to gemcitabine and oxaliplatin in more than three quarters of the women in this trial. But having all 4 drugs caused too many side effects.
The trial recruited 20 women who had stage 3 or 4 ovarian cancer. They all had 4 cycles of treatment with gemcitabine and oxaliplatin (GO), followed by 4 cycles of treatment with paclitaxel and carboplatin (PC).
After 4 cycles of GO, the researchers found
- The cancer had disappeared in 4 women – researchers call this a
- The cancer had got smaller in 12 women – researchers call this a
After 4 cycles of PC, there were
- 13 complete responses
- 4 partial responses
They also looked at how long it was before the cancer started growing again. On average, this was just over 1 year and 2 months.
Generally, the side effects of GO were not serious, but a small number of women had bad sickness, and a drop in white blood cells, causing an increased risk of infection. A quarter of the women had some nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy).
After having the PC chemotherapy, nearly three quarters of the women had peripheral neuropathy. So, the researchers say that having all 4 drugs causes too much nerve damage, and that this combination should not be used in future clinical trials.
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 Peter Harper
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust