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Cancer Health Center

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Cartilage (Bovine and Shark) (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Human / Clinical Studies


This clinical study had several weaknesses that could have affected its outcome, including the absence of a control group and the receipt of prior and/or concurrent conventional therapy by most patients.

Partial results of a third clinical study of Catrix are described in an abstract submitted for presentation at a scientific conference,[3] but complete results of this study have not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. In the study, 35 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma were divided into four groups, and the individuals in each group were treated with identical doses of subcutaneously injected and/or oral Catrix. Three partial responses and no complete responses were observed among 22 evaluable patients who were treated with Catrix for more than 3 months. Following Catrix therapy, 2 of the 22 evaluable patients were reported to have stable disease, and 17 were reported to have progressive disease. No relationship between Catrix dose and tumor response could be established in this study.

The third published study of cartilage as a treatment for people with cancer was a phase I/II trial that tested the safety and the efficacy of orally administered Cartilade, a commercially available powdered preparation of shark cartilage, in 60 patients with various types of advanced solid tumors.[4] All but one patient in this trial had been treated previously with conventional therapy. According to the design of the study, no additional anticancer treatment could be given concurrently with Cartilade therapy. No complete responses or partial responses were observed among 50 evaluable patients who were treated with Cartilade for at least 6 weeks. However, stable disease that lasted 12 weeks or more was reported for 10 of the 50 patients. All ten of these patients eventually experienced progressive disease.

Partial results of three other clinical studies of powdered shark cartilage are described in two abstracts submitted for presentation at scientific conferences,[5,6] but complete results of these studies have not been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. All three studies were phase II clinical trials that involved patients with advanced disease; two of the studies were conducted by the same group of investigators.[5] These three studies enrolled 20 patients with breast cancer,[5] 12 patients with prostate cancer,[5] and 12 patients with primary brain tumors.[6] All patients had been treated previously with conventional therapy. No other anticancer treatment was allowed concurrently with cartilage therapy. In two of the studies,[5] the name of the cartilage product was not identified; however, in the third study,[6] the commercially available product BeneFin was used. Ten patients in each study completed at least 8 weeks of treatment and therefore were considered evaluable for response. No complete responses or partial responses were observed in any of the studies. Two evaluable patients in the breast cancer study were reported to have stable disease that lasted 8 weeks or more; two evaluable patients in the brain tumor study had stable disease that lasted 20 weeks or more; and three evaluable patients in the prostate cancer study had stable disease that also lasted 20 weeks or more.

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