Oncology and Quality of Life

Oncology is the study and treatment of cancer. When patients are diagnosed with cancer they are referred to – if they are not already in the care of – an oncologist or cancer specialist, who develops a plan of treatment. That treatment may include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. The goal of cancer treatment is to remove the cancer or limit its spread to other parts of the body. Western medicine has demonstrated great advances in fighting cancer – in curing patients, or in extending the life span of patients in whom the disease is far advanced.

But the patient with cancer needs more than surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to maximize his chance of survival and to improve the quality of his life. We are beginning to find that other therapies – those that reduce stress, control pain, and offer support for the person undergoing treatment – are important complements to traditional treatment. The Center for Integrative Medicine designs an integrative program of care for the cancer patient that works hand in hand with traditional medical treatment and enhances the patient’s wellness.

Even for patients who have completed cancer treatment – whether they are recovering or in decline – the modalities of the Center’s integrative care plan can help patients restore a sense of control and quality to their lives.


Specifically we offer the following treatments for cancer:


We are happy to announce that we are now offering European Mistletoe (mistletoe)

injections as a complementary treatment for individuals who have been diagnosed with


More than a popular romantic symbol of love and fertility, mistletoe has been used

throughout history to treat medical conditions from arthritis to seizures, and was even

thought to be a healer of all ailments in some cultures. In the early twentieth century,

European physicians began treating their patients who were living with cancer with

injections of mistletoe extract. Unlike it’s red-berried American counterpart, European

mistletoe, Viscum album L., is a hemiparasitic plant with white berries. It contains

lectins and viscotoxins, active constituents that have been shown to stimulate immune

function and display anti-cancer properties in cell culture and animal studies.12

Many of the studies which investigate the efficacy of mistletoe as a treatment for cancer

present mixed results regarding its potential ability to prolong survival and reduce

tumor recurrence and metastases. However, many of these studies lack methodological

validity. Despite the controversy presented in the available research, mistletoe

treatment is commonly prescribed as a complementary cancer treatment in Europe.

The strongest current evidence for mistletoe treatment indicates its potential ability to

improve quality of life and well-being in individuals who have cancer. Subcutaneous

injections of mistletoe have been shown to improve appetite, sleep, weight maintenance,

and overall quality of life in individuals who are receiving best supportive care as well as

conventional cancer treatment. Moreover, this treatment has not been shown to

interfere with chemotherapy and or commonly cause serious adverse effects.3 4

Randomized controlled trials have shown mistletoe treatment to improve quality of life

in individuals with non-small cell lung, ovarian, breast, and pancreatic cancers.567

Quality of life was not shown to be improved in individuals with head and neck cancers,

however. Mistletoe treatment has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug

Administration (FDA), and clinical trials are underway in the US to evaluate the safety

and efficacy of this treatment.

The average cost of mistletoe treatment ranges from $100-200 per month. To learn

more and decide if this treatment is right for you, please call the center and schedule a

visit with Dr. Orceyre or Dr. Kogan.

For more information: https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-


1 Estko, M et al. Tumour cell derived effects on monocyte/macrophage polarization and function and modulatory

potential of Viscum album lipophilic extract in vitro. (2015) BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

2 Cebovic T et al. Cytotoxic effects of the Viscum album L. extract on Ehrlich tumour cells in vivo. (2008)

Phytotherapy Research.

3 Weissenstein U et al. Interaction of standardized mistletoe (Viscum album) extracts with chemotherapeutic drugs

regarding cytostatic and cytotoxic effects in vitro.

4 Adverse Drug Reactions and Expected Effects to Therapy with Subcutaneous Mistletoe Extracts (Viscum album L.)

in Cancer Patients.

5 Piao et al. Impact of complementary mistletoe extract treatment on quality of life in breast, ovarian, and non-small

cell lung cancer patients. A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial. (2004)

6 Troger et al. Quality of Live of Patients with Advanced Pancreatic Cancer During Treatment With Mistletoe (2014)

7 Troger et al. Five-year follow-up of patients with early stage breast cancer after a randomized study comparing

additional treatment with viscum album (L.) extract to chemotherapy alone.