Introduction: The possible oncostatic properties of melatonin on different types of neoplasias have been studied especially in hormone-dependent adenocarcinomas. Despite the promising results of these experimental investigations, the use of melatonin in breast cancer treatment in humans is still uncommon.
Areas covered: This article reviews the usefulness of this indoleamine for specific aspects of breast cancer management, particularly in reference to melatonin's antiestrogenic and antioxidant properties: i) treatments oriented to breast cancer prevention, especially when the risk factors are obesity, steroid hormone treatment or chronodisruption by exposure to light at night (LAN); ii) treatment of the side effects associated with chemo- or radiotherapy.
Expert opinion: The clinical utility of melatonin depends on the appropriate identification of its actions. Because of its SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulators) and SEEM (selective estrogen enzyme modulators) properties, and its virtual absence of contraindications, melatonin could be an excellent adjuvant with the drugs currently used for breast cancer prevention (antiestrogens and antiaromatases). The antioxidant actions also make melatonin a suitable treatment to reduce oxidative stress associated with chemotherapy, especially with anthracyclines, and radiotherapy.