Context: Bladder cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer in males in the U.S., who develop about 90% of the high-grade, carcinoma in situ (CIS) of non-muscle involved disease (NMIBC). Smoking and occupational carcinogens are well-known causes. For females without known risk factors, bladder cancer can be regarded as a sentinel environmental cancer. It’s also one of the costliest to treat due to its high rate of recurrence. No treatment innovations have occurred in nearly two decades; intravesical instillation of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), an agent in short supply globally, or Mitomycin-C (MIT-C) is effective in about 60% of cases. Cases refractory to BCG and MIT-C often undergo cystectomy, a procedure with numerous impacts on life styles and potential complications. The recent completion of a small Phase I trial of mistletoe in cancer patients that have exhausted known treatments at Johns Hopkins provides corroboration of its safety, with 25 % showing no disease progression.

Objective: The study examined the benefits of pharmacologic ascorbate (PA) and mistletoe for a nonsmoking female patient with an environmental history of NMIBC refractory to BCG, in a non-smoking female with exposures in childhood and early adult life to several known carcinogens, including ultrafine particulate air pollution, benzene, toluene, and other organic solvents, aromatic amines and engine exhausts, and possibly arsenic in water.

Design: The research team performed an integrative oncology case study on pharmacologic ascorbate (PA) and mistletoe, both agents shown to activate NK cells, enhance growth and maturation of T-cells, and induce dose-dependent pro-apoptotic cell death, suggesting shared and potentially synergistic mechanisms.

Setting: The study began at the University of Ottawa Medical Center in Canada with treatment continuing over six years at St. Johns Hospital Center in Jackson, Wyoming, and George Washington University Medical Center for Integrative Medicine, with surgical, cytological, and pathological evaluations at University of California San Francisco Medical Center.

Participant: The patient in the case study was a 76-year-old, well-nourished, athletic, nonsmoking female with high-grade CIS of the bladder. Her cancer was considered to be a sentinel environmental cancer.

Intervention: Intravenous pharmacologic ascorbate (PA) and subcutaneous mistletoe (three times weekly) and intravenous and intravesical mistletoe (once weekly) were employed for an 8-week induction treatment, using a dose-escalation protocol as detailed below. Maintenance therapy was carried out with the same protocol for three weeks every three months for two years.

Results: The patient has experienced a cancer-free outcome following 78 months of treatments that incorporated intravesical, intravenous, and subcutaneous mistletoe; intravenous PA; a program of selected nutraceuticals; exercise; and other supplementary treatments.

Conclusions: This study is the first reported instance of combined treatments to achieve complete remission for high-grade NMIBC refractory to BCG and MIT-C, using intravesical, subcutaneous, and intravenous mistletoe and intravenous PA. It includes pharmacological information on possible mechanisms. In light of the global shortage of BCG, the high proportion of cases refractory to BCG and MIT-C, the unproven use of costly off-label pharmaceuticals, such as gemcitabine, and the relative cost-effectiveness of mistletoe and PA, clinicians should give serious consideration to employing these combined functional medicine treatments for BCG- and MIT-C-refractory NMIBC. Further research is needed with additional patients that can advance our understanding, including standardization of methods for systematically evaluating combined therapies-blinded and non-blinded, nomenclature regarding mistletoe preparation, doses, concentrations, regimes of administration, lengths of treatment, targeted cancer types, and other aspects.

PubMed Article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36933241/