Written by Timm Hoeres, Markus Horneber and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated July 13, 2016


Does it work?

Controlled clinical trials

No controlled clinical trials of DCA in cancer patients are available.

Uncontrolled clinical trials

Please see table 1 for details of uncontrolled clinical trials of DCA for cancer.

Michelakis et al. conducted a phase I trial to evaluate the influence of DCA on glioblastoma (GBM) in five patients 11. Three patients received oral DCA in increasing doses between 6.25 mg/kg and 25 mg/kg body weight twice daily as a sole treatment and two in addition to radiotherapy and temozolomide. The authors reported a partial response in one out of three patients that solely received DCA. Based on the results of this trial, the evidence that DCA is efficacious against GBM is very weak.

Garon et al conducted a phase I trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of DCA in the treatment of advanced solid tumors. A total of seven patients, one with metastatic breast cancer and six with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received oral DCA at 6.25mg/ kg body weight twice daily. The best objective response until termination of the study was a stable disease in one patient after eight weeks. The results of this study gave no indication for a clinically relevant effect of DCA against breast cancer and NSCLC 20.

Chu et al. performed a phase I clinical trial to evaluate the safety of DCA therapy and document possible tumor responses in 24 patients with advanced solid tumors refractory to treatment. Sixteen patients received oral DCA at 6.25mg/kg body weight twice daily for 28 days. In seven patients, DCA dose was escalated to 12,5mg / kg twice daily. Treatment was continued to a maximum of 28 days, until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity occurred. The best tumor responses reported were stable diseases in eight patients. Based on this phase I trial an effect of DCA in the treatment of advanced and treatment refractory solid tumors can neither be supported nor negated 21.

Dunbar et al was a phase I trial to evaluate safety and tumor response to DCA treatment in 13 patients with high grade glioma and two patients with brain metastasis from adenocarcinoma of the uterus and the lung. Patient received oral DCA at 8 mg/kg body weight twice daily for 4 weeks. Dosing of DCA dosing was adapted depending on the genotype of glutathione transferase zeta 1 (GSTZ1). The best objective tumor responses after four weeks of treatment were stable diseases in eight patients. Based on these results, a limited effect of DCA on glioblastoma or brain metastases could be hypothesized 22.

Case reports

Strum et al. contacted patients who reported responses of their cancers to DCA in internet forums and where possible assessed their medical records. One of the included patients was judged as being documented well enough to attribute a four year complete remission of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma relapse to the application of DCA 23.

Another author reported two cases and attributed a long term complete remission after relapse from stage IV follicular lymphoma and a partial remission of chemotherapy resistant medullary thyroid carcinoma to DCA in combination with thiamine 24,25.

In one case report DCA seemed to reduce swelling and pain from a metastasis of a poorly differentiated carcinoma 26.

Citation Timm Hoeres, Markus Horneber, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Dichloroacetate [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Dichloroacetate. July 13, 2016.


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