Melatonin, a promising role in taxane-related neuropathy

Published on Tuesday, 09 December 2014


PURPOSE: Melatonin has neuroprotective effects in animal studies and has been suggested to decrease adverse reactions of chemotherapy including neuropathy. This pilot trial aimed at assessing whether melatonin, given during taxane chemotherapy for breast cancer, will decrease the incidence and/or severity of neuropathy.

METHODS: Twenty two consecutive patients beginning chemotherapy for breast cancer with paclitaxel, or docetaxel were enrolled. Patients received melatonin 21 mg daily at bedtime. Incidence and severity of neuropathy were assessed using neurological examinations, toxicity assessment per NCI-CTC 3.0 scale and FACT-Taxane quality of life questionnaire.

RESULTS: Neuropathy was seen in 45% (n = 10) of patients, 23% (n = 6) grade 1 and 22% (n = 5) Grade 2 neuropathy. No grade 3 neuropathies were reported. The majority (55%) of all patients reported no neuropathy. Compliance with melatonin (>60% of dose) was seen in most patients (86%) No patient reported daytime sedation. The median FACT-Taxane quality of life end of study score was 137, with only a 0.5 median decline from baseline.

CONCLUSION: Patients receiving melatonin during taxane chemotherapy had a reduced incidence of neuropathy. Melatonin may be useful in the prevention or reduction of taxane-induced neuropathy and in maintaining quality of life. Larger trials are warranted to further explore the role of melatonin in neuropathy treatment and prevention.



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