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Mistletoe Extracts (PDQ®)

  • Posted: 12/21/2002
  • Updated: 04/23/2014

Table 1. Use of Iscador in Cancer Treatment: Clinical Reports Describing Therapeutic Endpointsa

Reference Citation(s)  Type of Study  Type(s) of Cancer  No. of Patients: Enrolled; Treated; Controlb Strongest Benefit Reportedc Concurrent Therapyd Level of Evidence Scoree 
[23]Randomized trialLung, non-small cell, inoperable408; 105; 107fSubjective improvement in quality of lifeYesg1iiA
[29]Randomized trialLung, non-small cell, stages I–IV218; 87; 96Improved median survival, LN+ patients onlyNo1iiA
[5]Randomized trialMelanoma, stages II–III204; 102; 102NoneNo1iiA
[25]Comparative, retrolective, cohort studyBreast, stages I–IV1,442; 710; 732Improved survivalYes2B
[24]Comparative, retrolective, cohort studyMelanoma, stages II–III686; 329; 357Improved survivalUnknown2A
[4]Cohort studyBreast, stage III8,475h; 17i; 17iImproved mean survivalYesNone
[4]Cohort studyVarious types, stages I–IV8,475h; 39i; 39iImproved mean survivalYesNone
[4]Cohort studyVarious types, stages I–IV10,226h; 396i; 396iImproved mean survivalYesNone
[27]Retrospective, observational cohort studyNonmetastatic colorectal804; 429; 375Lower incidence of diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, dermatitis, fatigue, and mucositisYes2C
[30]Nonconsecutive case seriesPancreatic 292; 292; various historical controlsImproved median survivalYes3iiiA
[31]Case report Lung, small cell, stage IV1; 1; NonePartial responseYesNone

LN+ = lymph node–positive disease; No. = number.
aRefer to text and the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms for additional information and definition of terms.
bNumber of patients treated plus number of patients controlled may not equal number of patients enrolled; number of patients enrolled = number of patients initially recruited/considered by the researchers who conducted a study; number of patients treated = number of enrolled patients who were administered the treatment being studied and for whom results were reported; historical control subjects are not included in number of patients enrolled.
cStrongest evidence reported that the treatment under study has anticancer activity or otherwise improves the well-being of cancer patients.
dChemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, or cytokine therapy administered/allowed at the same time as mistletoe therapy.
eFor information about levels of evidence analysis and an explanation of the level of evidence scores, refer to Levels of Evidence for Human Studies of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
fControl patients were treated with a vitamin B mixture as a placebo; 100 additional evaluable patients were treated with Polyerga Neu, a sheep spleen glycopeptide reported to be an immunostimulant and an inhibitor of tumor cell glycolysis; treatment with Polyerga Neu was not found to be beneficial.
gRadiation therapy for metastases distant from the site of the primary tumor was permitted; radiation therapy to the primary tumor site or use of other anticancer treatment was not permitted.
hAmong 10,226 cancer patients enrolled in a retrospective matched-pair, case-control study, 1,751 had been treated with Iscador or another mistletoe product and 8,475 had not been treated with mistletoe; from the 8,475 untreated patients, two sets of matched pairs were formed for prospective studies; in the prospective studies, one member of each pair was randomly assigned to be treated with Iscador and the other member served as a control subject.
iPatients were strictly matched according to gender, year of birth ± 3 years, year of diagnosis ± 3 years, type of tumor, stage of disease, and conventional therapy received.


  1. Grossarth-Maticek R, Kiene H, Baumgartner SM, et al.: Use of Iscador, an extract of European mistletoe (Viscum album), in cancer treatment: prospective nonrandomized and randomized matched-pair studies nested within a cohort study. Altern Ther Health Med 7 (3): 57-66, 68-72, 74-6 passim, 2001 May-Jun.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Kleeberg UR, Suciu S, Bröcker EB, et al.: Final results of the EORTC 18871/DKG 80-1 randomised phase III trial. rIFN-alpha2b versus rIFN-gamma versus ISCADOR M versus observation after surgery in melanoma patients with either high-risk primary (thickness >3 mm) or regional lymph node metastasis. Eur J Cancer 40 (3): 390-402, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Dold U, Edler L, Mäurer HCh, et al., eds.: [Adjuvant Cancer Therapy in Advanced Non-Small Cell Bronchial Cancer: Multicentric Controlled Studies To Test the Efficacy of Iscador and Polyerga]. Stuttgart, Germany: Georg Thieme Verlag, 1991. 

  4. Augustin M, Bock PR, Hanisch J, et al.: Safety and efficacy of the long-term adjuvant treatment of primary intermediate- to high-risk malignant melanoma (UICC/AJCC stage II and III) with a standardized fermented European mistletoe (Viscum album L.) extract. Results from a multicenter, comparative, epidemiological cohort study in Germany and Switzerland. Arzneimittelforschung 55 (1): 38-49, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Bock PR, Friedel WE, Hanisch J, et al.: Retrolective, comparative, epidemiological cohort study with parallel groups design for evaluation of efficacy and safety of drugs with "well-established use". Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 11 (Suppl 1): 23-9, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Friedel WE, Matthes H, Bock PR, et al.: Systematic evaluation of the clinical effects of supportive mistletoe treatment within chemo- and/or radiotherapy protocols and long-term mistletoe application in nonmetastatic colorectal carcinoma: multicenter, controlled, observational cohort study. J Soc Integr Oncol 7 (4): 137-45, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Salzer G, Danmayr E, Wutzholfer F, et al.: [Adjuvant Iscador® treatment of non-small cell bronchial carcinoma. Results of a randomized study]. Dtsch Z Onkol 23 (4): 93-8, 1991. 

  8. Schaefermeyer G, Schaefermeyer H: Treatment of pancreatic cancer with Viscum album (Iscador): a retrospective study of 292 patients 1986-1996. Complement Ther Med 6 (4): 172-7, 1998. 

  9. Bradley GW, Clover A: Apparent response of small cell lung cancer to an extract of mistletoe and homoeopathic treatment. Thorax 44 (12): 1047-8, 1989.  [PUBMED Abstract]