Background: Radiation-induced diarrhea is frequently observed during pelvic radiotherapy. This study was performed to determine the ability of a probiotic containing live lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifidobacterium bifidum to reduce the incidence of radiation-induced diarrhea in locally advanced cervical cancer patients.
Methods: Patients who were undergoing pelvic radiotherapy concurrent with weekly cisplatin were randomly assigned to a study drug or placebo, in a double-blind study. Diarrhea was graded weekly according the Common Toxicity Criteria (CTC) system. Stool consistency and white and red blood cell count in stool were also assessed. The primary endpoint was to reduce the incidence of diarrhea, defined by a CTC grade 2 or more, and the need for anti-diarrheal medication.
Results: A total of 63 patients were enrolled. Grade 2 -3 diarrhea was observed in 45% of the placebo group (n = 31) and 9% of the study drug group (n = 32) (p = 0.002). Anti-diarrheal medication use was significantly reduced in the placebo group (p = 0.03). The patients in the study drug group had a significantly improved stool consistency (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Live lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifidobacterium bifidum reduced the incidence of radiation-induced diarrhea and the need for anti-diarrheal medication and had a significant benefits on stool consistency.