Dr. Weeks’ Comment: When your radiation oncologist warns you to not take anti-oxidants while subjecting your body to radiation therapy (or chemo therapy) ask him or her if he or she has ever heard of the drug AMIFOSTINE. This drug is a synthetic, patented (expensive) vitamin C knock-off which is an anti-oxidant. These studies that follow demonstrate that using an antioxidant in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy protects you while not protecting the cancer: that means that an antioxidant (just like vitamin C) allows you to have an easier time undergoing the otherwise toxic and debilitating conventional cancer treatment if you take Amifostine (but why not just take the real thing: vitamin C ?!)
Oncology (Williston Park). 2001 Oct;15(10):1349-54; discussion 1357-60.
The role of amifostine as a radioprotector.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.
Effective radiotherapy for patients with cancer should include maximal tumor cell killing with minimal injury to normal tissue. Radiation doses that can be delivered, without causing severe damage to surrounding normal tissues, can be insufficient to eradicate a tumor. Agents have been developed to protect normal tissue from the toxicities of radiation. The aminothiol amifostine (Ethyol) is the subject of extensive research as a protector. Several studies have demonstrated that amifostine protects normal tissues from both acute and late radiation damage without protecting the tumor. This article reviews the physicochemical basis of radiation therapy on biologic tissues and the mechanisms responsible for the protective effects of amifostine. The increasing body of biochemical, preclinical, and clinical data can justify the use of protectors such as amifostine with radiotherapy to provide improved therapeutic efficacy and quality of life for the patient. This article will review the current understanding of the nature of toxicity resulting from radiation therapy and the benefits that can be derived from using protection to increase the tolerance of normal tissue to radiation damage.
Semin Oncol. 2003 Dec;30(6 Suppl 18):2-9.
Amifostine reduces radiochemotherapy-induced toxicities in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Antonadou D, Petridis A, Synodinou M, Throuvalas N, Bolanos N, Veslemes M, Sagriotis A.
Radiation Oncology Department, Metaxas Cancer Hospital, Piraeus, Greece.
Radiochemotherapy (RCT) is an effective treatment for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer, but can be limited by acute and late toxicities (esophagitis, pneumonitis, and myelosuppression). This trial investigated whether pretreatment with amifostine (Ethyol, WR-2721; MedImmune, Inc, Gaithersburg, MD), a radioprotector, could reduce the incidence of RCT-induced acute and late toxicities. Between October 1997 and August 1999, 73 patients with previously untreated stage IIIa-IIIb non-small cell lung cancer were randomized to treatment with RCT alone or RCT plus amifostine (300 mg/m(2) daily intravenous infusion). Chemotherapy consisted of either paclitaxel (60 mg/m(2)) or carboplatin (area under the concentration-curve of 2) once weekly during a 5- to 6-week course of conventional radiotherapy given as 2 Gy daily fraction, 5 days a week to a total dose of 55 to 60 Gy. Esophagitis and acute lung toxicity were evaluated during treatment; late lung toxicity was assessed at 3 and 6 months after RCT and was graded from 0 to 4 according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group/European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer criteria. Esophageal endoscopy was performed the fourth week during RCT and 1 month after the end of RCT. Endoscopic findings of radiation esophagitis were scored from 0 to 3. There was no significant difference between treatment arms in baseline patient characteristics. A total of 68 patients were evaluable for toxicity and efficacy (RCT group, n = 32; RCT plus amifostine, n = 36). The incidence of grade >or= 3 esophagitis during RCT was significantly lower for patients receiving amifostine than for those receiving RCT alone (38.9% v 84.4%; P <.001). The incidence of grade >or= 3 acute pulmonary toxicity was also significantly reduced in amifostine-treated patients (19.4% v 56.3%; P =.002). At 3 months following RCT, patients treated with amifostine had a significantly lower incidence of pneumonitis than those who received RCT alone (P =.009). Endoscopic grade >or= 2 esophagitis was observed in eight of 15 patients in the RCT group and in three of 18 patients in the RCT plus amifostine group (P =.061). No significant differences in response rates were noted between patients receiving RCT with or without amifostine (P =.498). Amifostine is effective in reducing the incidence of both acute and late toxicities associated with RCT in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer without compromising antitumor efficacy.
Integr Cancer Ther. 2005 Dec;4(4):329-51.
Commentary: the pharmacological antioxidant amifostine — implications of recent research for integrative cancer care.
Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care, Evanston, Illinois 60201, USA. email@example.com
Amifostine is a pharmacological antioxidant used as a cytoprotectant in cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is thought to protect normal tissues relative to tumor tissue against oxidative damage inflicted by cancer therapies by becoming concentrated at higher levels in normal tissues. The degree to which amifostine nevertheless accumulates in tumors and protects them against cancer therapies has been debated. Guidelines have been published that direct its use in chemotherapy and radiation, taking into consideration the concerns of tumor protection. In this article, clinical studies of amifostine appearing since the publication of the most recent set of guidelines are reviewed. Randomized and nonrandomized trials of regimens involving chemo-therapeutic agents (chemotherapy, chemoradiation, conditioning regimens for bone marrow transplant) are discussed. Nineteen studies showed positive effects for amifostine reducing the level of side effects of these regimens, while 9 showed no effect and 1 had a questionable result. Clinically relevant levels of amifostine toxicity were observed in several studies, but subcutaneous administration may reduce such toxicity. Amifostine showed protection against mucositis, esophagitis, neuropathy, and other side effects, although protection against cisplatin-induced ototoxicity was not observed. No evidence of tumor protection was observed. Amifostine may enable populations unable to tolerate conventional cancer therapy to receive treatment of their cancers, even if some degree of tumor protection is eventually discovered. The authors discuss the implications of this research for patient populations seen in integrative cancer care centers and for research on phytochemical antioxidants such as vitamins and carotenoids.