Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A study looking for changes in PET-CT scans of women with ovarian cancer that has come back after treatment
This study looked at whether PET-CT scans could help find out how well treatment is working for ovarian cancer that has come back.
More about this trial
Doctors often use chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer that has come back (relapsed) after initial treatment. When this trial was done, they often did a CT scan part way through chemotherapy to see how well the treatment was working.
It can be difficult to read scans of people with ovarian cancer, as the area of cancer can move a bit within the tummy (abdomen). So comparing scans before treatment with those after treatment is not always straightforward.
The researchers running this study wanted to find out whether PET-CT scans are a good way to see how well treatment is working. Finding out as soon as possible if treatment isn’t working means doctors can think about other treatment options sooner.
PET scans use a mildly radioactive drug to show up areas of the body where cells are more active than normal. Cancer cells are often more active than healthy cells, so they show up more.
CT scans take a series of x-rays and put them together to create a 3 dimensional (3D) picture of the body.
These two are combined in a PET-CT scan to give detailed information about the area of cancer.
In this study they compared the results from PET-CT scans and CT scans.
The aim was to find out if PET-CT scans are useful for showing how well chemotherapy is working for women with relapsed ovarian cancer.
Summary of results
The research team found that PET-CT scans could be useful for assessing ovarian cancer.
This trial was open for people to join between 2009 and 2011, and reported results in 2014.
About the study
This study recruited 43 women with ovarian cancer. They’d all had treatment for their cancer already, but it had started to grow again.
Some women had one PET-CT scan before their treatment. But 21 of the women who took part had two PET-CT scans, a few days apart, before they started treatment. This helped the research team check that the scan results were reliable.
The scan pictures were all looked at by several different people, some with more experience of reading scans than others. They measured the size and shape of the area of cancer. The different people reported mostly similar results. This showed that the scans are reliable.
For the 21 women who had 2 PET-CT scans before treatment, the results of the two scans were similar. This means it is an accurate way of measuring the area of cancer.
It is important that doctors are happy that scan results are accurate. Then they know that changes from one scan to another are because of the treatment.
The research team found that PET-CT scans are accurate enough to measure changes in ovarian cancer. And that they may be useful to find out how well chemotherapy is working.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr James Brenton
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Merck, Sharp & Dohme
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer