Malignant pleural effusion is a common problem in patients with solid tumours. It has a significant impact on quality of life, and, hence, there is a substantial need to investigate new agents to treat it.
Patients and methods
This is a prospective randomised controlled study, including patients with symptomatic recurrent malignant pleural effusion of different primaries. Patients were randomised into two groups: the first group received five ampoules of mistletoe preparation with defined lectin content (Viscum Fraxini-2, ATOS Pharma) diluted in 10 cc glucose 5% solution. Re-instillation was repeated every week until complete dryness of the pleural fluid was achieved (the maximum duration of the therapy was eight weeks). The second group received 60 units of bleomycin once intrapleurally.
The primary aim of this paper was to evaluate the efficacy of mistletoe preparation as a palliative treatment for malignant pleural effusions in comparison with bleomycin. The secondary aim was to evaluate the tolerability of the mistletoe preparation.
A total of 23 patients were included and followed up during the study from December 2007 to January 2012: 13 patients received mistletoe preparation, and ten patients received bleomycin. Overall clinical response was reported in 61.5% of the mistletoe preparation arm versus 30% in bleomycin arm (p = 0.2138), 95% CI = (–0.1203, 0.6325). The toxicity of both arms was mild and manageable; the mistletoe preparation arm included fever, chills, headache, malaise, and, in two cases, allergic reaction, which was controlled by discontinuation of the drug and steroid injection.
Mistletoe preparation is an efficient and well tolerated sclerosant agent which needs further investigation.