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Curcumin in Reducing Joint Pain in Breast Cancer Survivors with Aromatase Inhibitor-Induced Joint Disease

Trial Status: Closed to Accrual

This phase I trial studies how well curcumin works in reducing joint pain in patients who are breast cancer survivors and have joint disease caused by treatment with aromatase inhibitors. Curcumin is an ingredient of turmeric, a plant in the ginger family, which is commonly used in curries and South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, and may decrease joint pain in patients with arthritis from other conditions (such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis).

Inclusion Criteria

  • Women with histologically confirmed primary invasive adenocarcinoma of the breast, stages I-IIIA
  • Estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) and/or progesterone-receptor positive (PR+) breast cancer
  • Completion of definitive surgery with mastectomy or breast conserving therapy
  • Postmenopausal (no menses >= 12 months) or on ovarian suppression in order to take AIs
  • Currently taking an Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved third-generation aromatase inhibitor (e.g., anastrozole [Arimidex], letrozole [Femara], or exemestane [Aromasin]) for >= 90 days prior to registration with plans to continue for >= 90 days after registration
  • Clinical symptoms of joint pain for at least 3 months prior to study entry that started or increased with AI therapy with Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) Worst Pain score >= 4 (verbal response to BPI question 3 regarding the worst pain in the past 24 hours as 0 “no pain” to 10 “pain as bad as you can imagine”)

Exclusion Criteria

  • Prior malignancy =< 5 years except adequately treated basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, in situ cervical cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast or adequately treated stage I or II cancer from which the patient is currently in complete remission
  • History of a bleeding tendency or current use of coumadin or other anticoagulants
  • Current or previous history of anemia
  • Current autoimmune, liver, hematopoietic, cardiac, or renal disease
  • Current viral, bacterial, atypical or fungal infections of any organ system
  • Concurrent use of immunosuppressant medications
  • Concurrent use of medications known to inhibit or induce hepatic enzyme CYP 3A4 (e.g. ketoconazole, macrolide antibiotics, barbiturates)
  • Uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to, ongoing or active infection, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, or psychiatric illness/social situation that would limit compliance with study requirements
  • Bone fracture or surgery of the affected joints, within 180 days of study entry
  • Medical therapy, alternative therapy, or physical therapy for joint pain/stiffness =< 30 days of study entry
  • Intra-articular steroids =< 90 days of study entry or oral/intramuscular corticosteroids < 30 days of entry
  • Use of analgesics (e.g., opiates, tramadol with the exception of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs] and acetaminophen) within 14 days prior to registration, or at any time during the 3-month study period
  • Chronic use of any herbal or dietary supplement containing curcumin or curcuminoids =< 3 months of study entry or any other supplements that might interact with NEC (e.g. St. John’s Wort)
  • Known sensitivity or allergy to turmeric spices or curry


City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
Contact: Lisa Diane Yee
Phone: 626-218-3850
South Pasadena
City of Hope South Pasadena
Contact: Lisa Diane Yee
Phone: 626-218-3850
City of Hope Upland
Contact: Lisa Diane Yee
Phone: 626-218-3850


Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
Status: ACTIVE
Contact: Maryam Beheshti Lustberg


I. To evaluate the feasibility of using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Endocrine Symptoms (FACT-ES) scores to detect changes in aromatase inhibitor (AI)-induced symptoms and well-being in postmenopausal women with breast cancer at 3 months of nanoemulsion curcumin (NEC) versus (vs) placebo.


I. To evaluate Disabilities of the Shoulder, Arm, and Hand (DASH), Brief Pain Inventory, and Geriatric Assessment as secondary tools for monitoring AI-induced symptoms and well-being.

II. To evaluate the adherence to a regiment of NEC vs placebo by postmenopausal women experiencing joint arthropathy induced by aromatase inhibitor therapy.

III. To obtain preliminary data regarding function in women with AI induced arthropathy (IA) by monitoring grip strength at 0 and 3 months of NEC vs placebo.

IV. To conduct exploratory analyses of blood based biomarkers in postmenopausal women with AI-induced arthropathy taking NEC vs placebo.

OUTLINE: Patients are randomized to 1 of 2 arms.

ARM I: Patients receive nanoemulsion curcumin orally (PO) twice daily (BID) for up to 3 months in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

ARM II: Patients receive placebo PO BID for up to 3 months in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

After completion of study, patients are followed up for 30 days.

Trial Phase Phase I

Trial Type Supportive care

Lead Organization
City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center

Principal Investigator
Lisa Diane Yee

  • Primary ID 18432
  • Secondary IDs NCI-2018-03787
  • ID NCT03865992