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Vol. 16, No. 4, 2009
Issue release date: September 2009
Section title: Original Article · Originalartikel
Editor's Choice -- Free Access
Forsch Komplementmed 2009;16:217–226
(DOI:10.1159/000226249)

Efficacy and Safety of Mistletoe Preparations (Viscum album) for Patients with Cancer Diseases

A Systematic Review

Melzer J. · Iten F. · Hostanska K. · Saller R.
Institute of Complementary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland

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Abstract

Background: Mistletoe is often used as a complementary approach in oncology. Despite experimental anti-tumour effects and several reviews there remains controversy about its clinical role. Patients and Methods: Potentially relevant trials were identified to perform a systematic review (databases: e.g. EMBASE, MEDLINE; hand search: e.g. bibliographies; search terms: e.g. mistletoe). To be included, randomised or comparative clinical trials at least had to examine mistletoe preparations standardized according to manufacturing process and to describe interventions explicitly. Additionally, cohort studies were included for reasons of external validity. Results were summarised in tables. Results: 18 clinical trials (>6,800 participants) were included. Their internal quality was mostly low. Due to heterogeneity between trials a meta-analysis was impossible. Regarding efficacy, findings were inconsistent regarding life expectancy, relation to tumour entity, dosing and treatment duration. Yet, studies indicate that quality of life (QoL) is improved. As these findings do not seem to be limited to one of the different parenteral mistletoe preparations reviewed the treatment may be summarised under the umbrella term ‘mistletoe therapy’. Regarding safety, 1 serious adverse event (AE) related to mistletoe was described; non-serious AEs were local reactions at injection site. Allergic reactions were rare. Conclusion: Supportive ‘mistletoe therapy’ seems safe and beneficial for QoL in adult patients with solid tumours. But there is an urgent need to confirm its efficacy in patient-centred care in a complex oncological setting. This has to be evaluated systematically in prospective observational trials with validated, multidimensional patient-rated QoL questionnaires and comparisons of different preparations and dosages.


  

Author Contacts

Jörg Melzer, MD Institute of Complementary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine University Hospital Zurich CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland Tel. +41 44 255-2460, Fax -4394 joerg.melzer@usz.ch

  

Article Information

Published_online: July 17, 2009
Number of Print Pages : 10

Additional supplementary material is available online - Number of Parts : 1

  

Publication Details

Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine (Research Practice Perspectives - Wissenschaft Praxis Perspektiven)

Vol. 16, No. 4, Year 2009 (Cover Date: September 2009)

Journal Editor: Walach H. (Northampton)
ISSN: 1661-4119 (Print), eISSN: 1661-4127 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/FOK


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Article · Originalartikel

Published online: 7/17/2009

Number of Print Pages: 10
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 1661-4119 (Print)
eISSN: 1661-4127 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/FOK


Copyright / Drug Dosage

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Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
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