Background: The recent advances in the analysis of tumor immunobiology suggest the possibility of biologically manipulating the efficacy and toxicity of cancer chemotherapy by endogenous or exogenous immunomodulating substances. Aloe is one of the of the most important plants exhibiting anticancer activity and its antineoplastic property is due to at least three different mechanisms, based on antiproliferative, immunostimulatory and antioxidant effects. The antiproliferative action is determined by anthracenic and antraquinonic molecules, while the immunostimulating activity is mainly due to acemannan.
Patients and methods: A study was planned to include 240 patients with metastatic solid tumor who were randomized to receive chemotherapy with or without Aloe. According to tumor histotype and clinical status, lung cancer patients were treated with cisplatin and etoposide or weekly vinorelbine, colorectal cancer patients received oxaliplatin plus 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), gastric cancer patients were treated with weekly 5-FU and pancreatic cancer patients received weekly gemcitabine. Aloe was given orally at 10 ml thrice/daily.
Results: The percentage of both objective tumor regressions and disease control was significantly higher in patients concomitantly treated with Aloe than with chemotherapy alone, as well as the percent of 3-year survival patients.
Conclusion: This study seems to suggest that Aloe may be successfully associated with chemotherapy to increase its efficacy in terms of both tumor regression rate and survival time.