Radiotherapy is the mainstay treatment of cervical cancer and the most common acute side effect is radiation-induced diarrhoea (RID), which can affect up to 80% of the patients. The most frequently used probiotics for the RID in previous studies with somewhat positive results are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. This study was aimed to investigate the effect of a probiotic containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5 plus Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 for the prevention of acute (RID) among cervical cancer patients. Patients receiving external beam pelvic radiotherapy with or without concurrent chemotherapy were randomized into probiotic or placebo groups and were double-blinded. The probiotic group received the capsules containing 1.75 billion lyophilized live bacteria to be taken one capsule three times daily beginning from the first day until the end of radiotherapy, and the placebo group received identically appearing capsules containing starch with the same schedule. Every patient received the standard dietary recommendations. The patients were assessed daily during radiotherapy and follow-up weekly for 3 weeks after radiotherapy. Total 54 patients were analyzed. The incidence of diarrhoea was reduced in the probiotic group than the placebo group (53.8 and 82.1%, p < 0.05). The mild-to-moderate and severe diarrhoea were significantly reduced in the probiotic group (p < 0.05). The use of loperamide as an anti-diarrhoeal medication was significantly reduced in the probiotic group than the placebo group (p < 0.01). The difference in grade 2 abdominal pain and episodes of abdominal pain in days were also significant (p < 0.001). Therefore, supplementation of probiotic is an easy and effective way to reduce the incidence and severity of RID in cervical cancer patients.
Keywords: Bifidobacterium; Cervical cancer; Lactobacillus; Probiotics; Radiation-induced diarrhoea.