The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Melatonin cream protects from radiation burns in breast cancer patients

    Redness, tenderness, and swelling of the skin are common during radiotherapy for breast cancer.

    Melatonin-based creams protect from these effects in rats. So, researchers at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, tested it in women with breast cancer.

    First, the details.

    • After lumpectomy, 47 were randomly assigned to a treatment group during radiotherapy.
      • Melatonin cream applied twice daily
      • Placebo
    • All women received 50Gy whole breast radiotherapy with 2Gy/fx.
    • There was no difference between the groups regarding histology, stage, treatment, skin color, BMI, and the details of their surgery.
    • Patients were examined, photographed.
    • They completed a detailed questionnaire weekly and 2 weeks following radiotherapy.
    • The ROTG (Radiation Therapy Oncology Group) criteria were used to measure severity of skin reactions.
    • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

    And, the results.

    • Grade 1 or 2 acute dermatitis occurred significantly less in the melatonin group immediately following radiotherapy (59% vs 90%) — almost a 50% reduction.
      • For comparison, up to 90% of breast cancer patients have acute skin reactions during radiation therapy — grade 2 severity in about a third of cases.
    • 4 times as many patients had grade 0 toxicity with melatonin vs placebo.
    • The difference was greatest among women older then 50, with 56% having grade 1 and or 2 in the melatonin group vs 100% in the placebo a — a significant difference.
    • Smokers in the melatonin group did significantly better than non-smokers.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded that these are; “promising results for the melatonin containing cream in preventing radiation induced skin reactions.”

    It’s a small study, and more research is planned.

    10/10/10 09:46 JR

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