Randomised controlled clinical trial of surgery with or without pre-operative chemotherapy in the treatment of respectable cancer of the oesophagus

Can chemotherapy help people with cancer of the oesophagus to live longer?

What was this study about?

In the early 1990’s, people with cancer of the oesophagus were offered an operation to try to cure their cancer. Unfortunately, this was only successful for a small group of people, and only about 1 in every 5 people lived for more than two years after the operation.

Some small clinical trials had suggested that it might be helpful to give people chemotherapy before their operation – it seemed that this might help more people to live for longer. The OE02 trial aimed to test whether this was the case. It compared two treatments for cancer of the oesophagus:

  • An operation
  • Chemotherapy followed by an operation

What difference did this study make?

This study showed that chemotherapy helped people to live longer. As a result of this study, chemotherapy is now commonly offered to people with cancer of the oesophagus before an operation.

Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details


Who funded the study?

The Medical Research Council.

When did it take place?

This trial opened to recruitment in 1992 and closed to recruitment in 1998. The results were published in 2002.

Who was included?

802 people from across Europe took part in this trial.