Adding GCSF (lenograstim) to chemotherapy to try and increase the dose intensity of chemotherapy given to patients with small cell lung cancer

Can chemotherapy drugs be given at 2-weekly intervals (rather than 3-weekly) if drugs that boost the blood count are given at the same time?

What was this study about?

Although chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it also kills normal blood cells. As a result chemotherapy can only be given every 3 weeks, as it takes this long for the normal blood cells to recover. However, the cancer cells may also grow in the 3 weeks between chemotherapy cycles. Researchers thought that a drug called G-CSF might help the normal blood cells to recover more quickly, and so enable people to have chemotherapy every 2 weeks. So they designed a trial to see if this was the case. Two drug companies made G-CSF. The MRC LU14 trial looked at the G-CSF made by one company (Chugai-Rhone-Polenc) and MRC LU15 trial looked at the G-CSF made by another.

What difference did this study make?

This new treatment was very effective. Most patients had at least the first 4 cycles of chemotherapy at 2-week intervals, although some patients experienced some serious side-effects.

This study showed this policy was feasible and led to a large randomised trial comparing standard (3-weekly) chemotherapy and intensive (2-weekly) chemotherapy – the MRC LU19 trial.

Type of study

Non-randomised trial

Contact details

Who funded the study?

The Medical Research Council, and the drug company Chugai-Rhone-Polenc donated the GCSF.

When did it take place?

The study was carried out in 1992 and 1993, and a report was published in 1995.

Who was included?

20 people took part.