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BACKGROUND: Brain metastases occur in up to 75% of patients with advanced melanoma. Most are treated with whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT), with limited effectiveness. Vandetanib, an inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor and rearranged during transfection tyrosine kinases, is a potent radiosensitiser in xenograft models. We compared WBRT with WBRT plus vandetanib in the treatment of patients with melanoma brain metastases. METHODS: In this double-blind, multi-centre, phase 2 trial patients with melanoma brain metastases were randomised to receive WBRT (30 Gy in 10 fractions) plus 3 weeks of concurrent vandetanib 100 mg once daily or placebo. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival in brain (PFS brain). The main study was preceded by a safety run-in phase to confirm tolerability of the combination. A post-hoc analysis and literature review considered barriers to recruiting patients with melanoma brain metastases to clinical trials. RESULTS: Twenty-four patients were recruited, six to the safety phase and 18 to the randomised phase. The study closed early due to poor recruitment. Median PFS brain was 3.3 months (90% confidence interval (CI): 1.6-5.6) in the vandetanib group and 2.5 months (90% CI: 0.2-4.8) in the placebo group (P=0.34). Median overall survival (OS) was 4.6 months (90% CI: 1.6-6.3) and 2.5 months (90% CI: 0.2-7.2), respectively (P=0.54). The most frequent adverse events were fatigue, alopecia, confusion and nausea. The most common barrier to study recruitment was availability of alternative treatments. CONCLUSIONS: The combination of WBRT plus vandetanib was well tolerated. Compared with WBRT alone, there was no significant improvement in PFS brain or OS, although we are unable to provide a definitive result due to poor accrual. A review of barriers to trial accrual identified several factors that affect study recruitment in this difficult disease area.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1193 - 1200


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Agents, Brain, Brain Neoplasms, Combined Modality Therapy, Disease-Free Survival, Double-Blind Method, Female, Humans, Male, Melanoma, Middle Aged, Piperidines, Quinazolines, Radiation-Sensitizing Agents, Radiotherapy