Treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer with mistletoe: results of a pilot trial

Anticancer Res. 1996 Mar-Apr;16(2):915-20.


Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with poor prognosis. It is characterized by its unresponsiveness to chemo- and/or radiotherapy. Therefore, many patients demand alternative drug therapy such as mistletoe treatment. However, there are no controlled data available analyzing the effect of mistletoe treatment in pancreatic cancer. In the present phase I/II study we evaluated the effect of mistletoe (Eurixor) treatment in 16 patients (7 women, 9 men) with histologically verified ductal pancreatic carcinoma. At the time when the patients were enrolled nine patients had lymph node metastases (stage III), and in 7 patients distant metastases (stage IV) were present. Mistletoe was administered twice a week by subcutaneous injection in a dosage of 1 ng per kg body weight. Monthly follow-ups included clinical status, multidimensional evaluation of quality of life, contrast enhanced computed axial tomography scan (CT scan) or ultrasonography, and determination of the tumor markers carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA 19-9). Apart from one anaphylactic reaction, which necessitated suspension of treatment for a few days, no severe side effects were observed. No partial or complete remission was seen. Eight patients (50%) showed a CT-verified status of "no change" according to World Health Organization criteria for at least 8 weeks. Median survival time in all patients was 5.6 months (range 1.5 to 26.5 months). Analysis of multidimensional evaluation of quality of life showed a stable course of disease in 7 patients. All except two patients claimed that mistletoe had a positive effect on their quality of life, with an obvious decline only during the last weeks of life. These results indicate that mistletoe is not able to significantly influence tumor growth in advanced pancreatic carcinomas. However, mistletoe treatment can stabilize quality of life, and therefore may help patients to maintain adequate life quality in their few remaining months.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Galactosides
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mistletoe*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Preparations*
  • Plant Proteins*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins, Type 2
  • Toxins, Biological / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Galactosides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Preparations
  • Plant Proteins
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins, Type 2
  • Toxins, Biological
  • beta-galactoside
  • ribosome inactivating protein, Viscum