A phase II trial of alternating chemotherapy and radiotherapy in small cell lung cancer

Is it possible to give radiotherapy between cycles of chemotherapy?

What was this study about?

Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are effective in treating small-cell lung cancer. Researchers in Europe had suggested that it was possible to give radiotherapy in-between 3-week cycles of chemotherapy, and that this would not cause too many side effects. Doctors in the UK wanted to check whether this was the case.

What difference did this study make?

The treatment caused a lot of side effects – only 1 of the first 12 patients completed the full course of treatment. Even when the drug doses were reduced, only 5 of the next 10 patients completed treatment.

This study showed that this sort of aggressive treatment was only possible in a few centres in the UK, and was suitable only for a few patients.

Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details

Who funded the study?

The Medical Research Council.

When did it take place?

The study was run in 1988 and 1989, and a paper was published in 1991.

Who was included?

24 people took part in this phase II study.