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Radiother Oncol. 2002 Oct;65(1):17-22.

Does prophylactic treatment with proteolytic enzymes reduce acute toxicity of adjuvant pelvic irradiation? Results of a double-blind randomized trial.

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Strahlenklinik, Klinikum Offenbach, Starkenburgring 66, 63069 Offenbach am Main, Germany.



Does prophylactic treatment with proteolytic enzymes reduce acute toxicity of adjuvant pelvic radiotherapy?


Fifty-six patients with an indication for adjuvant pelvic irradiation after curative surgery were double-blind randomized. All patients took 3 x 4 capsules study medication daily during radiotherapy. Twenty-eight patients in the enzyme group (EG) received capsules containing papain, trypsin and chymotrypsin, 28 in the placebo group (PG) received placebo capsules. All patients were irradiated with 5 x 1.8 Gy weekly to 50.4 Gy using four-field-box technique after CT-based planning. Primary objective was the grade of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and epitheliolysis during radiotherapy. Secondary objectives were the number of supportive medications and treatment interruptions due to acute toxicity.


None/mild diarrhea: 43% EG, 64% PG. Moderate/severe diarrhea: 57% EG, 36% PG (P = 0.11). Mean duration: 11 days in EG, 10 days in PG. None/mild nausea: 93% EG, 93% PG. Moderate/severe nausea: 7% EG, 7% PG. None/mild vomiting: 100% EG, 97% PG. None/mild fatigue: 82% EG, 93% PG. Moderate/severe fatigue: 18% EG, 7% PG (P = 0.23). None/mild epitheliolysis: 75% EG, 93% PG. Moderate/severe epitheliolysis: 25% EG, 7% PG (P = 0.16). Treatment interruption (mean days): 2.44 in EG, 1.46 in PG. Number of supportive medication: 29 in EG, 19 in PG.


The prophylactic use of proteolytic enzymes does not reduce acute toxicities, treatment interruptions and number of supportive medication and therefore does not improve tolerance of adjuvant pelvic radiotherapy.

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