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 looking at carboplatin and etoposide with thalidomide for small cell lung cancer
This trial looked at adding thalidomide to carboplatin and etoposide. It was for people who had small cell lung cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Thalidomide is a type of biological therapy. It stops the cancer forming new blood vessels. All cells need a blood supply to be able to grow.
Carboplatin and etoposide are types of chemotherapy. They are already used to treat small cell lung cancer.
The aims of this trial were to see
- If the combination of carboplatin, etoposide and thalidomide is useful for treating small cell lung cancer
- What the side effects are
Summary of results
This trial showed that adding thalidomide to carboplatin and etoposide could be useful for treating small cell lung cancer.
This was a small trial and recruited 25 people. Most of them had 6 cycles of treatment and then carried on taking thalidomide on its own to try and keep the cancer under control for longer (‘maintenance’ treatment).
The research team were able to analyse results of 24 patients. This showed that the cancer
- Went away completely in 4 people
- Shrank in another 13 people
- Stayed the same in 6 people
- Continued to grow in one person
The researchers also looked at how long the effect of treatment lasted, and found that 4 out of 10 people in the trial lived for more than a year.
The most common side effect was a drop in blood cells, causing tiredness, breathlessness, bleeding or bruising problems. But the side effects of having all 3 treatments were no worse than the side effects of just carboplatin and etoposide.
The research team have gone on to run a large phase 3 trial funded by Cancer Research UK. It is called the LLCG 12 trial and is comparing carboplatin and etoposide with carboplatin, etoposide and thalidomide. It finished recruiting patients in 2006.
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
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Prof Siow Ming Lee
Cancer Research UK
London Lung Cancer Group
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/99/001.
If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses
Freephone 0808 800 4040