Adding GCSF (filgrastim) 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 LU15 trial looked at the G-CSF made by one company (Amgen) and  the MRC LU14 trial looked at the G-CSF made by another company.

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.

It 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 Amgen 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?

32 people took part.