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Study questions use of mistletoe as adjuvant treatment for head and neck cancer

A controlled clinical trial in 477 people with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma concluded that standardized mistletoe extract (Viscum album) was ineffective in preventing cancer recurrence or metastases after surgery or radiation treatment. In addition, five-year survival rates were no better for people taking mistletoe than for the control group, and no significant differences in quality of life were observed. According to the researchers, mistletoe is one of the most commonly used alternative treatments for cancer in Europe. A number of earlier clinical studies suggested that mistletoe may have value as an adjuvant cancer treatment, but these investigators criticized the overall quality of the older studies. They concluded, "...the used mistletoe preparation has no indication in the adjuvant treatment of patients with head and neck cancer." Steuer-Vogt MK, Bonkowsky V, Ambrosch P, et al. The effect of an adjuvant mistletoe treatment programme in resected head and neck cancer patients: a randomised controlled clinical trial. European Journal of Cancer 2001; 37: 23-31.

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