Ionizing radiation causes a series of hematological alterations especially profound lymphocytopenia during and after the radiotherapy course. To investigate whether famotidine can reduce hematologic toxicity in patients treated with radiotherapy for prostate cancer.
A total of 36 patients undergoing radiotherapy for prostate cancer were randomized to receive either placebo or famotidine tablets. Participants were pretreated with 40 mg of oral famotidine or placebo tablets twice daily, 4 and 3 hr before each radiotherapy fraction. The patients received external-beam radiotherapy up to 70 Gy. Complete blood counts with differential, platelet counts, and hemoglobin levels were obtained at baseline, biweekly during the treatment and once 4 weeks after the end of radiotherapy course. Magnitude of changes from baseline in the hematological parameters was determined and compared using Repeated Measures ANOVA.
Famotidine was well tolerated. A total of 112 blood samples were evaluated. A significant reduction in radiation-induced lymphocytopenia was noted in patients receiving famotidine than in patients receiving placebo (P = 0.006). No significant difference was observed between two groups for the decline in platelets, erythrocytes and leucocytes. For both groups, neutrophil, monocyte, eosinophil, and hemoglobin levels did not change significantly during the treatment.
Our results indicate that famotidine could result in a significant reduction in radiation-induced lymphocytopenia and may consequently increase radiotherapy efficacy as well as survival times. This radioprotective effect may be chiefly associated with its antioxidant and radical scavenging properties. Further studies are required to confirm these encouraging results. Prostate 74:41–47, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.