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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 9:29 EDT

Mistletoe extract may treat bladder cancer

June 30, 2005

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – After surgery for superficial
bladder cancer, treatment with a mistletoe extract appears to
be effective at reducing tumor recurrence, German researchers
report.

Mistletoe extract could be a potential alternative
postoperative therapy for treating patients with superficial
bladder cancer successfully, “without the typical side effects
induced by other therapies,” Dr. Ursula Elsaesser-Beile from
the University of Freiburg, told Reuters Health.

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) has been shown to decrease
tumor recurrence significantly after surgery for bladder
cancer. However, serious side effects and even deaths have
prompted a search for alternatives. So far, none has been
equally effective.

Mistletoe extracts have been shown to act favorably on
proteins that affect cancer and have been widely used for many
years as alternative therapy in patients with malignancies.

In the current study, 30 patients with superficial bladder
carcinoma received six weekly instillations of a standardized
water-based mistletoe extract beginning about 4 weeks after
surgery

The treatment was well tolerated at all concentrations and
there were no reports of side effects.

At 12 months, nine tumors had recurred. In the 24 patients
with so-called pTa G2 and pT1 G2 tumors, the recurrence rate
was 33 percent, comparable to the recurrence rate in similar
historical controls treated with BCG, the investigators point
out.

While further studies are needed to define the best dosage,
Elsaesser-Beile said the current findings indicate “a new
approach for a broad clinical application of mistletoe extract
in urological oncology.”

SOURCE: Journal of Urology July 2005.