Background: The protection of patients from the acute and/or chronic toxicity of antineoplastic therapy has become a major concern of oncology centers around the world. However, most of the effort has been directed toward the adult population, and limited studies have been performed in the group that may gain the most from such strategies, namely, children.
Procedures: The MedLine and CancerLit databases were surveyed, and the relevant biomedical literature on cytoprotection during antineoplastic treatment was analyzed.
Results: Cytotoxicity from antineoplastic therapy customarily is addressed by altering dosing schedules, a technique that can seriously impact the efficacy of the therapy. Colony stimulating factors have been used posttherapy to stimulate recovery from neutropenia, and various agents have been proposed as pretherapy cytoprotectors. Trials in adults have produced mixed results, and, to date, only amifostine and dexrazoxane have been approved as cytoprotectors for very narrow indications. Few trials have been performed in children, although these patients often can look forward to long-term remission.
Conclusions: To prevent permanent toxicities from antineoplastic therapies that impact long-term pediatric survivors, the experience gained in adults should be extended more aggressively to children, and formal, randomized trials should be performed to determine the type of protection most suitable for the pediatric population.