Research has shown a drug, used in combination with chemotherapy to treat advanced colorectal cancer is not effective in some settings and indeed may result in more rapid cancer progression.
The research took place at the University of Southampton. The New EPOC study, published in The Lancet Oncology and funded by Cancer Research UK, evaluated whether the drug cetuximab and chemotherapy together worked better than chemotherapy alone as a treatment in addition to surgery for people with bowel cancer that had spread to the liver but could be surgically removed. In the trial patients either received chemotherapy on its own or chemotherapy combined with cetuximab. Patients received their specified treatment for 12 weeks. They then had surgery and followed by their specified treatment for another 12 weeks. Patients were then monitored via CT or MRI scans.
The researchers found that adding cetuximab to chemotherapy did not help this group of people. Analysis looked at how long people in each group were living without any sign of their cancer getting worse. They found this was on average 14.1 months in the group having chemotherapy and cetuximab compared to 20.5 months in the group having chemotherapy alone.
Professor Primrose, also a consultant surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, adds: "These are very important data and we would like to thank the patients and relatives of patients those who took part in this trial, as well as the many clinicians in the UK who participated. Our results demonstrate the importance of clinical trials to ensure patients with cancer receive the best of treatment for their condition."