Temporary palliation of disseminated adrenocortical carcinomas can sometimes be achieved with the chemotherapeutic agent mitotane. Although measurable partial remissions are unusual and are reported in only 20% to 30% of cases, palliation of hormone symptoms is commonly observed. Prolonged treatment with mitotane, however, is often limited by gastrointestinal and neurologic toxicity. Local recurrences and selected sites of metastatic disease can sometimes be palliated surgically or with radiation therapy.[1,2]
Two other cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens are suggested to be effective and have been compared in a phase III trial:
Laetrile is a compound that contains a chemical called amygdalin. Amygdalin is found in the pits of many fruits, raw nuts, and plants (see Question 1).
It is believed that the active anticancer ingredient in laetrile is cyanide (see Question 1).
Laetrile is given by mouth as a pill or by intravenous injection (see Question 4).
Laetrile has shown little anticancer effect in laboratory studies, animal studies, or human studies (see Question 5 and Question 6).
The side effects of laetrile...
Furthermore, a substantial number of treated patients with functioning tumors will show diminution in hormone production. In cases of increased hormone production, antisteroidogenic drugs, such as ketoconazole and metyrapone, and steroid receptor antagonists, such as spironolactone and mifepristone, should be considered.
Clinical trials are appropriate and should be considered whenever possible because phase I and II trials evaluate newer chemotherapeutic and biologic agents.
Trials of other chemotherapy regimens are also ongoing.
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IV adrenocortical carcinoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
Terzolo M, Ardito A, Zaggia B, et al.: Mitotane. In: Hammer GD, Else T, eds.: Adrenocortical Carcinoma: Basic Science and Clinical Concepts. New York, Springer, 2010, pp 369-82.
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