Background: Conventional cancer treatment is associated with resistant cancer development, treatment and quality of life limiting adverse effects, and patients’ inability to complete intended treatment plans. Conventional cancer treatment’s adverse effects lead 36.1% of cancer patients to seek integrative cancer treatments, which can provide a 15 percentage-point improvement in their health status. Therefore, a review of the extent of nutraceuticals applicable to conventional chemoradiation sensitization and adverse effect amelioration, as well as, for chemoprevention is valuable.
Methods: PubMed searches in September 2016 and January 2017, and hand searches in August 2016 and January 2017 were performed for English language, free full text articles published from 2012 onwards. Search terms were combinations of the key words: Homeopathy, nutraceuticals, phytochemicals, cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, prevention, and treatment. Adjuvant characteristics, adverse effects, and chemoradiation sensitization treatments were taken from these searches.
Findings: Organosulphurs are immunologic chemosensitizers. Terpenes can inhibit or reverse drug resistance. Epigallocatechin modulates estrogen receptor expression. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are cancer cell membrane chemoradiation sensitizers. Esterified vitamin E analogues and Ayurvedic Triphala radiosensitize the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. Curcumin and resveratrol also radiosensitize cancer cells. Withaferin A is synergistic with cisplatin permitting reduced cisplatin doses while maintaining cisplatin’s effectiveness. Conventional cancer treatment associated hand-foot syndrome, hematologic toxicity, mucositis, pain, sleep dysfunction, and overall toxicity respond to several nutraceuticals.
Conclusion and significance: The evidence for concurrent nutraceutical use with conventional chemoradiation to reduce conventional chemoradiation doses, and to prevent or limit conventional chemoradiation associated adverse effects exists. In vitro, and murine and human in vivo evidence suggests that nutraceuticals are effective chemoradiation sensitizers and adjuvants, with synergistic potential. Expanded scope positive human trials would facilitate a broader and deeper role for nutraceuticals in integrative cancer treatment.
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