EUROSCAN, a randomized trial of vitamin A and N-acetylcysteine in patients with head and neck cancer or lung cancer

Nico Van Zandwijk, Otilia Dalesio, Ugo Pastorino, Nico De Vries, Harm Van Tinteren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Preclinical evidence suggests that retinoids and antioxidants may prevent or delay the occurrence of cancer in the upper or lower airways, but such effects have not been reliably established in clinical studies. To assess the chemopreventive effects of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and N-acetylcysteine, we conducted a large randomized intervention study in patients with head and neck cancer or with lung cancer, most of whom had a history of smoking. Methods: From June 1988 through July 1994, a total of 2592 patients (60% with head and neck cancer and 40% with lung cancer) were randomly assigned to receive 1) retinyl palmitate (300 000 IU daily for 1 year followed by 150 000 IU for a 2(nd) year 2), N-acetylcysteine (600 mg or 2 years), 3) both compounds, or 4) no intervention. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Of the patients, 93.5% had smoked tobacco at sometime in their lives (and 25% continued to smoke after cancer diagnosis). After a median follow-up of 49 months, 916 patients were reported with an event (recurrence, second primary tumor, or death). No statistically significant difference was observed in overall survival or event-free survival between patients who received retinyl palmitate and patients who did not. Similarly, no difference was seen an overall survival or event-free survival between patients who received N-acetylcysteine and patients who did not. There was a lower incidence of second primary tumors in the no intervention arm, but the difference was not statistically significant. Conclusion: A 2-year supplementation of retinyl palmitate and/or N- acetylcysteine resulted in no benefit-in terms of survival, event-free survival, or second primary tumors - for patients with head and neck cancer or with lung cancer, most of whom were previous or current smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-986
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Volume92
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 21 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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