Research

Probiotics for diarrhea from radiation therapy

(Clin Nutr. 2013 Oct 24. pii: S0261-5614(13)00274-4. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2013.10.015.)

A randomized double-blind controlled trial: Impact of probiotics on diarrhea in patients treated with pelvic radiation.

Demers M, Dagnault A, Desjardins J.

Department of Radio-Oncology, University Health Center, Hôtel Dieu de Québec, Québec, Canada; Department of Clinical Nutrition, University Health Center, Hôtel Dieu de Québec, Québec, Canada. Electronic address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BACKGROUND & AIMS:
Radical radiation therapy is commonly used for treatment of pelvic cancer. Up to 80% of patients receiving radiotherapy will develop acute radiation induced diarrhea. The primary aim of this randomized double blind controlled trial is to evaluate the effect of the probiotic Bifilact® on moderate and severe treatment-induced diarrhea during pelvic radiation.

METHODS:
Patients with pelvic cancers were treated between 2006 and 2010 at L'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, University Health Center. Some patients had surgery before pelvic radiotherapy and some received chemotherapy. A total of 246 Patients were randomized between a placebo and either of two regiments of double strain Bifilact® probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus LAC-361 and Bifidobacterium longum BB-536): a standard dose twice a day (1.3 billion CFU) or a high dose three times a day (10 billion CFU). Patients were trained to record their digestive symptoms daily with a standardized scale and they met a registered dietician and radiation oncologist every week during treatment. The main analysis compared time to first appearance of grade ≥2-3-4 diarrhea using Kaplan-Meier curves as measured by proportion of patients without moderate and severe diarrhea.

RESULTS:
229 patients were analyzed. The difference between the groups for overall grade 2-3-4 diarrhea was not statistically significant (p = 0.13). However at 60 days, the proportion of patients without moderate and severe diarrhea in the standard dose group (35%) was more than twice as high as that of the placebo group (17%) with a hazard ratio of 0.69 (p = 0.04). In patients who had surgery, the standard probiotics dose group had a better proportion of patients without very severe diarrhea than the placebo group, respectively 97% and 74% (p = 0.03). In all groups, the average number of bowel movements per day during treatment was less than 3 soft stools (p = 0.80) and the median abdominal pain less than 1 based on the National Cancer Institute scale (p = 0.23).

CONCLUSION:
Standard dose of Bifilact® may reduce radiation induced grade 2-3-4 diarrhea at the end of the treatment of patients with pelvic cancer. In patients operated on before RT, a standard dose of probiotics may reduce radiation induced grade 4 diarrhea. Nutritional interventions by a registered dietician seemed to reduce global digestive symptoms.

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