Background: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) continues to be a substantial problem for many cancer patients. Pursuant to promising appearing pilot data, the current study evaluated the use of vitamin E for the prevention of CIPN.
Methods: A phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted in patients undergoing therapy with neurotoxic chemotherapy, utilizing twice daily dosing of vitamin E (400 mg)/placebo. The primary endpoint was the incidence of grade 2+ sensory neuropathy (SN) toxicity (CTCAE v 3.0) in each treatment arm, analyzed by chi-square testing. Planned sample size was 100 patients per arm to provide 80% power to detect a difference in incidence of grade 2+ SN toxicity from 25% in the placebo group to 10% in the vitamin E group.
Results: Two-hundred seven patients were enrolled between December 1, 2006 and December 14, 2007, producing 189 evaluable cases for analysis. Cytotoxic agents included taxanes (109), cisplatin (8), carboplatin (2), oxaliplatin (50), or combination (20). There was no difference in the incidence of grade 2+ SN between the two arms (34%-vitamin E, 29%-placebo; P = 0.43). There were no significant differences between treatment arms for time to onset of neuropathy (P = 0.58), for chemotherapy dose reductions due to neuropathy (P = 0.21), or for secondary endpoints derived from patient-reported neuropathy symptom assessments. The treatment was well tolerated overall.
Conclusions: Vitamin E did not appear to reduce the incidence of sensory neuropathy in the studied group of patients receiving neurotoxic chemotherapy.