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J Clin Oncol. 1999 Oct;17(10):3283-90.

Striking regression of chronic radiotherapy damage in a clinical trial of combined pentoxifylline and tocopherol.

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Service d'Oncologie-Radiothérapie, Hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris, France.



Radiation-induced fibrosis (RIF) remains the most morbid complication of radiotherapy because of the absence of spontaneous regression and the difficulty of patient management. RIF treatment with combined pentoxifylline (PTX) and tocopherol (Vit E) was prompted by recent advances in cellular and molecular biology that have improved researchers' understanding of radiation-induced late-injury mechanisms and by the excellent results from our previous human and animal studies.


Forty-three patients (mean [+/- SD] age, 59 +/- 10 years) presenting with 50 symptomatic RIF areas involving the skin and underlying tissues were treated from April 1995 to September 1997. Patients had had radiotherapy for head and neck or breast cancer a mean period of 8.5 +/- 6.5 years previously. RIF developed in the first year after irradiation and gradually worsened, without spontaneous regression. The mean measurable surface area of RIF ([S]) at the time of this study ([S(0)]) was 42 +/- 34 cm(2). The initial Subjective Objective Medical management and Analytic (SOMA) injury evaluation score was 13.2 +/- 5.9 and included evidence of edema, plexitis, restricted movement, and local inflammatory signs. A combination of PTX (800 mg/d) and Vit E (1,000 IU/d) was administered orally for at least 6 months.


Treatment was well tolerated. All assessable injuries exhibited continuous clinical regression and functional improvement. Mean RIF surface area and SOMA scores improved significantly (P <.0001) at 3 months ([S(3)], -39%; [SOMA(3)], -22%), 6 months ([S(6)], -53%; [SOMA(6)], -35%), and 12 months ([S(12)], -66%; [SOMA(12)], -48%), and mean linear dimensions ([D]) diminished from the start of the study ([D(0)], 6.5 +/- 2.5 cm) to the end of treatment 12 months later ([D(12)], 4 +/- 2 cm). At the time of the treatment, we did not attempt to achieve the maximum effect, and the study was continued.


The PTX-Vit E combination reversed human chronic radiotherapy damage and, because no other treatment is presently available for RIF, should be considered as a therapeutic measure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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