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Behind the headlines: the GCIG INTERLACE trial

Posted on: Tuesday, 24th October 2023 by Katie Musialowski, Senior Information Officer

This week, researchers revealed exciting results from the GCIG INTERLACE clinical trial, showing that a new way of using existing cancer drugs could mean more effective treatment options for cervical cancer. 

Why was the trial started? 

For more than 20 years, combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiation) has been the main way of treating locally advanced cervical cancer. However, some patients find that the cancer spreads to other parts of their body. Scientists at University College London wanted to see if this could be improved by giving additional chemotherapy before this standard treatment. They also looked at whether it would reduce the risk of death. 

500 patients with cervical cancer across 5 countries have taken part in the trial, and so far, the findings are promising. Results collected over 5 years show cancer spread was prevented in 73% of those receiving the extra chemotherapy, compared with 64% for chemoradiation alone. The additional chemotherapy also appears to significantly reduce mortality when used before chemoradiation. 

Why is this important? 

Women and people with a cervix who discover their cervical cancer has spread are sadly faced with limited options for treatment. New cancer medicines can take a long time to be approved and, if they are, they’re often expensive and difficult for many people to access. The two additional chemotherapy drugs used in the trial — carboplatin and paclitaxel — are not only cheap, but they’re already widely used by the NHS. This means they would be quickly available to help treat cervical cancer, which makes these results really exciting.  

Dr Mary McCormack, lead investigator of GCIG INTERLACE, said:

“This is the biggest improvement in outcome in this disease in over 20 years. I’m incredibly proud of all the patients who participated in the trial; their contribution has allowed us to gather the evidence needed to improve treatment of cervical cancer patients everywhere.” 

What will happen now? 

The trial is still collecting results, which will also show how the additional chemotherapy affects the chances of cancer returning, and what impact it has on someone’s quality of life. Although it will be a while before researchers can share all the findings, it’s great to see attention placed on developing new ways to treat cervical cancer and we hope for more positive results. 

More information and support 

If you’re living with a cervical cancer diagnosis, we’re here for you. You can call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000. We also have our online Forum, which has a private space for those with advanced cervical cancer.