In 1995, 234 adults from Qidong, Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China, where hepatocellular carcinoma is the leading cause of cancer deaths and exposure to dietary aflatoxins is widespread, were enrolled and followed in a Phase II chemoprevention trial. The goals of the study were to define a dose and schedule of oltipraz for reducing levels of validated aflatoxin biomarkers and to characterize dose-limiting toxicities. Healthy eligible individuals, including those infected with hepatitis B virus, were randomized to receive either 125 mg of oltipraz daily, 500 mg of oltipraz weekly, or placebo. Blood and urine specimens were collected to monitor toxicities and evaluate biomarkers over the 8-week intervention period and subsequent 8-week follow-up period. Unique trial aspects included a synchronous follow-up schedule, daily observed administration of all medications, timely international data transference, and use of biomarkers as outcomes. One hundred thirty-two participants took their medications without interruptions, approximately 77% contributed all nine urine samples, and 78% contributed all seven blood samples. Fifty-one participants (21.8%) reported clinical adverse events. An extremity syndrome, developing soon after the start of treatment, was the only event that occurred more frequently (P = 0.002) among the active groups (18.4 and 14.1% of the daily 125 and weekly 500 mg arms, respectively) compared with placebo (2.5%). The oltipraz arms did not differ in symptom type or severity, and there were no indications of exacerbated drug intolerance among the few participants infected with hepatitis B virus. The good compliance with an intense follow-up schedule shows that chemoprevention trials with biomarker end points may be conducted in such populations.

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