Effect of pentoxifylline on colon cancer patients treated with chemotherapy (Part I)

Tumour Biol. 2021;43(1):341-349. doi: 10.3233/TUB-211533.


Background: Cancer progression is associated with significant systemic clinical manifestations including cachexia induced weight loss and anorexia. Pentoxifylline (PTX) is a drug that has been shown to have multiple beneficial effects in cancer patients through its anti-inflammatory properties.

Main objective: To evaluate PTX effects on colon cancer patients treated with chemotherapy.

Patients and methods: Forty metastatic colon cancer patients receiving chemotherapy were enrolled in this randomized study. 17 patients were treated with a full dose of PTX (400 mg TID), 9 patients with a reduced dose PTX (200 mg TID) and 23 served as controls (no PTX).

Results: Follow-up evaluations of patients included the following: physical examination; leukopenia determination; weight determination; stomatitis determination; and survival rate. Patients treated with PTX (both full and reduced doses), experienced a significant increase in weight and a reduction in stomatitis relative to the control group. Treatment with PTX also significantly increased patient survival rate. All patients treated with PTX, had a median overall survival (OS) rate of 20.4 months as compared to 13.2 months in the control group.

Conclusions: PTX treatment of colon cancer patients, in addition to chemotherapy, significantly improved survival rates, induced weight gain and reduced stomatitis occurrence -all important parameters of cachexia.

Keywords: Pentoxifylline; cachexia; colon cancer; stomatitis; survival; weight gain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cachexia / drug therapy
  • Cachexia / prevention & control*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / therapeutic use
  • Leukopenia / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pentoxifylline / adverse effects
  • Pentoxifylline / therapeutic use*
  • Stomatitis / prevention & control*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Leucovorin
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Fluorouracil