Adjuvant Chemotherapy with Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas Versus Placebo in Patients with Lung Adenocarcinoma after Radical Surgery: a Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

Biol Proced Online. 2020 Mar 1;22:5. doi: 10.1186/s12575-020-00117-5. eCollection 2020.


Background: The toxicity and side effects caused by adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) after radical surgery for lung adenocarcinoma (LAC) lead to early termination frequently. This study was conducted to provide an objective basis for the effect of Chinese herbal medicine formulas (CHMFs) combined with chemotherapy in reducing toxicity and enhancing efficacy of ACT.

Method: From February 17th, 2012 to March 20th, 2015, 233 patients from 7 hospitals diagnosed with LAC in IB~IIIA stage were randomly assigned into ACT + CHMF group (116 patients) and ACT + placebo group (117 patients). CHMF was taken orally until the end of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy-related toxic, side effects were investigated as the primary outcome. Disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were used as the secondary outcome.

Results: At one week following chemotherapy, the incidence of dry mouth, diarrhea and thrombocytopenia significantly decreased in CHMF group (P = 0.017, P = 0.033, P = 0.019, respectively). At two weeks following chemotherapy, fatigue and diarrhea were more obvious in the placebo group (P = 0.028, P = 0.025, respectively). In addition, patients in the CHMF group showed an increase in median DFS from 37.1 to 51.5 months compared with placebo group although there was no statistical significance (P = 0.16). In the stage IB subgroup, the CHMF group had a significantly better DFS (HR (95% CI) = 0.53 (0.28-0.99), P = 0.046). There was no significant difference in OS between the groups (P = 0.72).

Conclusion: For patients with LAC, ACT combined with CHMF after radical surgery can prolong the DFS time especially in the early stage, and reduces the chemotherapy-related toxic and side effects.

Trial registration: NCT01441752. Registered 14 July, 2011.

Keywords: Adjuvant chemotherapy; Adverse events; Chinese herbal medicine formulas; Disease-free survival; Lung adenocarcinoma.

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