Research - clinical trials for cancer of unknown primary (CUP)
Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are called clinical trials.
Trials may be carried out to:
test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs, gene therapy or cancer vaccines
look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, to make them more effective or reduce side effects
compare the effectiveness of drugs used to control symptoms
find out how cancer treatments work
find out which treatments are the most cost-effective.
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different type of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what is already available.
Taking part in a trial
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You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial, and there can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and develop new treatments.
You will be carefully monitored during and after the study. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials. It’s important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found to be less effective than existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.
If you decide not to take part in a trial your decision will be respected and you do not have to give a reason. There will be no change in the way you are treated by the hospital staff and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.
Blood and tumour samples
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Blood and tumour samples may be taken to help make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. If you take part in a trial you may also give other samples, which may be frozen and stored for future use when new research techniques become available. Your name will be removed from the samples so you can’t be identified.
The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or at another one. This type of research takes a long time, and results may not be available for many years. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment, which will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
The CUP-ONE trial is looking at how helpful the chemotherapy drugs epirubicin, cisplatin and capecitabine are for CUP. The trial is also looking at new ways of finding out where the cancer started. Tissue and blood samples will be taken from you if you enter this trial. Researchers will use these to do new tests in the laboratory that may help them find where the cancer started. They’ll also look at the tissue and study the genetic material (DNA) in your cells. This is to help find out why some people respond better to treatment than others and why some people get certain side effects and others don’t.