Enhancement of the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy by the pineal hormone melatonin and its relation with the psychospiritual status of cancer patients.
Psychological Service, Fondazione IRCCS, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milan, Italy.
The anti-oxidant and immunomodulating natural agents may enhance the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy. One of the most important agents is the pineal hormone melatonin (MLT) which may exert both anti-oxidant and antiproliferative immunostimulating anticancer effects. This study was performed to evaluate the efficacy of a biochemotherapeutic regimen in metastatic cancer patients, and its therapeutic activity in relation to the psychospiritual status of patients.
The study included 50 metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and a control group of 100 patients. Chemotherapy consisted of cisplatin plus gemcitabine. MLT was given orally at 20 mg/day in the evening. Patients were subdivided into 5 psychic profiles, as follows: spiritual faith, rationale faith, anxiety, apathy, and accusation behavior.
Tumor response rate was significantly higher in patients treated by chemotherapy plus MLT than in those treated by chemotherapy alone (21/50 vs. 24/100, p < 0.001). However, the percentage of objective tumor regressions obtained in patients with spiritual faith was significantly higher than that found in the overall other patients concomitantly treated by chemotherapy plus MLT (6/8 vs. 15/42, p < 0.01).
In conclusion, the efficacy of chemotherapy may be enhanced by the pineal hormone MLT, by representing a new promising biochemotherapeutic combination; also despite its objective ability to enhance chemotherapy efficacy, the activity of MLT is depending at least in part on the psychospiritual status of cancer patients, and it is maximal in the presence of a real spiritual faith.