Past clinical trial research

Nurse on the phone referring to patient notes

Our strategy

A scientist

For the past 120 years, we’ve been making discoveries that have saved countless lives. But we have so much more to do. Our strategy sets out how we'll accelerate progress towards a better future.

Our milestones

Our scientists have run many clinical trials that have developed and tested new, better and kinder treatments for people with cancer. Below are a few of our most important discoveries.

2011 – We show that aspirin can reduce bowel cancer cases in a group of people at high risk of the disease. Results from our CAPP trial show that the over-the-counter drug cuts the risk of bowel cancer in people with an inherited condition called Lynch syndrome, who are more likely to develop the disease. And further analysis of the results in 2015 show that overweight or obese people benefit the most from taking aspirin, a finding that reveals important clues about the biology driving bowel cancer to develop.  

1989 – We fund the biggest trial of its kind – the ESPAC1 trial. This ground-breaking study, looking into new options for people with pancreatic cancer, goes on to become a series of practice-changing trials that help transform the outlook for people with this hard-to-treat disease.

2005 – People with pancreatic cancer are given precious extra time after our GEMCAP trial finds that two chemotherapy drugs are better than one, significantly boosting survival. This combination therapy then becomes the new standard of care for patients with late-stage pancreatic cancer that can’t be operated on.

2007 – A trial we funded – QUASAR – shows that giving patients with bowel cancer that hasn’t spread around the body chemotherapy after surgery reduces their risk of their cancer coming back. This trial changed the way doctors treat bowel cancer and has helped save many lives.

2008 – We funded large clinical trials that helped improve survival and reduce side effects of chemotherapy for children and young people with different types of lymphoma. 

2017 – Our research shows a potential new treatment option for some people with prostate cancer could help many more men survive their disease. Results from the STAMPEDE clinical trial – one of the largest of its kind – find that adding the drug abiraterone to hormone therapy at the start of treatment could greatly improve survival.

2011 – We help set up the International Rare Cancers Initiative, which aims to develop clinical trials to find new treatments for patients with rare cancers. The first trials open internationally in 2014-15.

2000 – We open the first UK trial of a more precise type of radiotherapy for prostate cancer called IMRT. Because it’s more targeted, it reduces side effects for men with prostate cancer.

2016 – Men could be saved from extra hospital trips after our large clinical trial shows the benefits of giving fewer, stronger doses of radiotherapy for prostate cancer.

2017 – Lung cancer patients can decide with their doctor on the radiotherapy course that’s most suited to them, thanks to our work. Results from the CONVERT clinical trial show that, when combined with chemotherapy, halving the treatment time by giving radiotherapy twice daily is just as good as once-daily doses for patients with a certain type of lung cancer.

1995 – We lead the first clinical trial testing a new treatment, pemetrexed. This drug has helped extend the lives of hundreds of people diagnosed with mesothelioma. Further clinical trials we support show that adding pemetrexed to carboplatin can almost double the life expectancy of patients with this hard-to-treat cancer.

1992-1997–  We carry out the first clinical trials of temozolomide, showing how this drug could help some patients with brain tumours. To date, thousands of people have benefited from treatment with this drug. 

2000 – We support early clinical trials of rituximab – a drug that has made a big difference to survival for people with certain types of lymphoma and leukaemia.

2010 – We help fund a ground-breaking trial of a drug called mitoxantrone, showing how it could improve survival by more than 50% for children whose acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) has returned. This revolutionized the way children with ALL are treated.

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