Purpose: Anthracycline-based chemotherapies for breast cancer are well known to have adverse effects and can also negatively affect host immune function. There is therefore a necessity for an adjuvant that maintains the quality of life (QOL) and immune function of cancer patients receiving anthracycline-based chemotherapies.
Patients and methods: The present study investigated the effectiveness of the concomitant use of Lentinula edodes mycelia extract (LEM), an oral immunomodulator, with FEC75 (5-fluorouracil + epirubicin + cyclophosphamide) therapy on host QOL and immune function in breast cancer patients with nodal metastases. Ten breast cancer patients with nodal metastases receiving surgery were enrolled in this study. Treatment with 5-fluorouracil (500 mg/m(2)), epirubicin (75 mg/m(2)), and cyclophosphamide (500 mg/m(2)) was performed every 21 days for two courses, and LEM (1800 mg/day by mouth) was administered during the second course.
Results: In the first course, hematological toxicity was observed and host QOL and immune function were exacerbated. In the second course, however, the number of white blood cells and lymphocytes did not decrease and host QOL was maintained. Furthermore, the cytotoxic activities of natural killer (NK) and lymphokine-activated killer cells and the proportion of activated NK and NK T-cells in lymphocytes were maintained in the second course.
Conclusion: It has been suggested that the concomitant use of LEM with FEC75 therapy can maintain host QOL and immune function, and offer important implications for an application of LEM as a useful oral adjuvant to anthracycline-based chemotherapies.
Keywords: Lentinula edodes; anthracycline; breast cancer; clinical study; immunity; quality of life.