A randomised trial of 3 cycles of BEP versus 3 cycles of BEP plus 1 cycle of EP and the 3-day versus the 5-day schedule in good prognosis metastatic germ cell cancer

Can we give less chemotherapy to men with testis cancer but achieve the same results?

What was this study about?

Metastatic germ cell cancer is a type of testis cancer. Many men who get this type of testis cancer are young – the average age is under 30. The usual treatment is a combination of chemotherapy drugs called BEP – bleomycin, etoposide and cisplatin. Many men are cured of their cancer with this treatment. Doctors have tried to reduce the amount of chemotherapy, so that men experience fewer side effects and can get back to their normal lives more quickly, whilst ensuring that the chemotherapy is still as effective.

This trial aimed to find out whether men could be given 3 cycles of chemotherapy drugs instead of 4, and how each cycle of chemotherapy should be given – over 3 days or over 5 days. It looked at men who were expected to be cured of their cancer.

What difference did this study make?

The researchers found that three cycles of BEP is sufficient to treat this type of testis cancer. They also found that giving chemotherapy over three days worked as well as giving it over five days.

Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details


Who funded the study?

The UK Medical Research Council and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).

When did it take place?

This trial opened to recruitment in 1995 and closed in 1998. The results of the study were published in 2001.

Who was included?

812 men took part in this trial. They all had metastatic germ cell cancer and a good prognosis. They came from hospitals in the UK and across Europe.

Three cycles of chemotherapy is now established as standard treatment for men with this type of cancer and it can be given over 3 or 5 days. Researchers advised that men with metastatic germ cell cancer who have a poor prognosis and need 4 cycles of chemotherapy should be given this over 5 days rather than 3 days. This helps to reduce unwanted side effects.