Scavengers of oxygen-derived free radicals prolong survival in advanced colonic cancer. A new approach

Tumour Biol. 1993;14(1):9-17. doi: 10.1159/000217820.


The influence of oxygen-derived free radicals on survival in advanced colonic cancer was assessed in a prospective randomized controlled double-blind trial using the radical scavengers dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and allopurinol. Following palliative sigmoid colectomy for carcinoma at Dukes' stage D, 306 patients were randomized to the control group or to electrocoagulation of liver secondaries alone or with allopurinol (50 mg by mouth 4 times a day) or DMSO (500 mg by mouth 4 times a day). In 193 fully evaluable patients who were studied for 5 years, allopurinol and DMSO incurred a significant (p < 0.05) survival advantage over the whole period of study. The similarity in efficacy between allopurinol and DMSO and the fact that the only action they share is scavenging oxyradicals, suggest that these radicals mediate the detrimental effects of malignancy and that removing them incurs a survival advantage for patients with advanced colonic cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allopurinol / metabolism
  • Allopurinol / therapeutic use
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / metabolism
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Female
  • Free Radical Scavengers*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Sigmoid Neoplasms / mortality
  • Sigmoid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Sigmoid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Rate


  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Allopurinol
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide