More than 200,000 persons died in 2002 in Germany as a consequence of cancer diseases. Cancer (ICD-9: 140-208, ICD-10: C00-C97) accounted for 28% of all male deaths and for 22% of all female deaths. Cancer treatment consists on surgery, radio- and chemotherapy. During chemotherapy patients may experience a wide variety of toxic effects (including life-threatening toxicity) which require treatment. The type and the intensity of chemotherapy toxicity are one of the limiting factors in cancer treatment. Toxic effects are also one of the factors affecting health related quality of life (HRQOL) during chemotherapy. Mistletoe extracts belong to the group of so called "unconventional methods" and are used in Germany as complementary cancer treatments. It has been postulated that the addition of mistletoe to chemotherapeutical regimes could help reduce chemotherapy-induced toxicity and enhance treatment tolerability. The German social health insurance covers the prescription of ML I standardized mistletoe extracts when those are prescribed as palliative cancer treatments with the aim of improving HRQOL.
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