Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and the numbers of new cancer cases are expected to continue to rise. The main goals of cancer therapy include removing the primary tumor, preventing the spread of distant metastases, and improving survival and quality of life for the patients. To attain these goals of cancer therapy, the combination of different chemotherapeutics, as opposed to the conventional single-agent treatment, is an emerging area of research. Given the potential risks of drug toxicity in such treatment, the focus is to have a second compound that increases the anticancer potential of the primary agent but which reduces toxicity. There is an ever growing interest in treatment with natural compounds, such as plant phytoestrogens, as an adjuvant cancer therapy along with conventional cancer therapy. The question remains whether or not adding these compounds to the cancer therapy regimen as a second agent would be beneficial, and if they are safe to be used among cancer patients. The current literature suggests that phytoestrogen treatment is capable of inducing G2/M cell cycle arrest in a number of cancer cell lines, as well as upregulating cell cycle inhibitory molecules. Phytoestrogen therapy has been shown to inhibit inflammation, angiogenesis and metastases in various IN VIVO tumor models, and pronounced benefits have been observed when combined with radiation therapy. The lack of side effects from phase I and II clinical trials of phytoestrogens in cancer therapy points towards their safety, but to further understand their added benefit clinical studies with large sample sizes are required. We have reviewed the recent research studies in these areas in an attempt to find evidence for their role in cancer therapy as well as safety.
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart-New York.