Role of curcumin as an adjuvant in treatment of advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

P. Arun, Sagayaraj A., S. M. Azeem Mohiyuddin, D. Santosh


Background: Chemoradiation forms the major line of treatment in advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, but the benefit of chemotherapeutic agents is at the expense of various toxicities. Curcumin has demonstrated promising results in in-vivo and in-vitro studies as a radiosensitiser. The objective of the study was to determine the role of curcumin as an adjuvant in patients undergoing chemo radiation for advanced head and neck cancers.

Methods: Study involved 21 patients who underwent chemo radiotherapy for advanced head and neck cancers. They were randomized into two groups. Group A received 500 mg of curcumin while, Group B received placebo along with chemoradiation. The response was assessed using RECIST criteria at three months post treatment using contrast enhanced computerized tomography scan.  

Results: Overall 58.3% patients had partial response and 41.7% patients had stable disease in group A. In group B, 33.3% patients had a partial response and 66.6% patient had a stable disease.

Conclusions: Patients receiving curcumin along with chemoradiation had a marginal decrease in tumour volume and 58.3% patients had partial response and 41.7% had stable disease. A statistical significance could not be achieved due to lack of stage-match controls. Further studies are required to validate the role of curcumin as an adjuvant in the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Radiation, Chemo radiation, Radiosensitiser, Curcumin

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