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 using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to help people with non small cell lung cancer
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This trial looked at using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to help people who were having chemotherapy. This trial was for people having chemotherapy to help control the growth and symptoms of non small cell lung cancer.
Doctors often use
Exercise is the best way to stop leg muscles from becoming weak. But the weakness means people are less able to exercise. And other side effects of chemotherapy can also make simple exercises, like walking, difficult.
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a small battery powered device that allows you to exercise your leg muscles while seated. We know from research that using NMES has helped people with other conditions that are not able to exercise their legs. The researchers wanted to know if using NMES could help people with cancer.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- If using NMES was safe for people having palliative chemotherapy
- If using NMES could help people with non small cell lung cancer
- What people felt about using NMES
Summary of results
The trial team found that neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) didn’t help people who were having palliative chemotherapy for non small cell lung cancer.
This was a phase 2 trial. It recruited 49 people. It was a randomised trial. The people who took part were put into groups by a computer. Neither they nor their doctor could choose which group they were in.
- 30 people used NMES 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes
- 19 people didn’t
Of the 30 people who used NMES, the researchers were able to look at the results of 15. Of the 19 people who didn’t, they were able to look at the results of 13. After these people had had 3 treatments of chemotherapy, the researchers looked at
- The strength and size of their thigh muscles
- Their physical activity
quality of life
They found that the quality of life of those who didn’t use NMES had reduced while those who did use NMES remained the same. But the differences were small enough for this to have happened by chance, so this result was not
They found no significant difference between the strength and size of thigh muscles or physical activity.
Of those who used NMES, 7 reported some initial muscle discomfort and 3 withdrew from the trial because of it. For the remaining 4 people the discomfort had eased within a week.
The trial team concluded that there was no suggestion that NMES helped people having palliative chemotherapy for non small cell lung cancer.
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 Andrew Wilcock
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)
Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust