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Disseminated intravascular coagulation and PC-SPES: a case report and literature review
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto Sunnybrook Regi
Aug  2001 (Vol.  8, Issue  4, Pages( 1326 - 1329)


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  • BACKGROUND: PC-SPES is a herbal remedy gaining acceptance amongst prostate cancer patients and health care providers due to credible laboratory and clinical studies. However, PC-SPES has not been assessed in the standard rigorous approval process mandated for conventional agents.


    To present a case of a patient with prostate cancer who, while using PC-SPES, developed disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). A review of the literature was conducted to determine if there is a relationship between PC-SPES and hemorrhagic disorders. Methods: Searches were conducted in MEDLINE (1966-December 2000) and the Cochrane Collaboration's database.


    There are 116 clinical and laboratory based studies of PC-SPES published to date. There are no randomized controlled trials. Clinical studies have demonstrated a significant reduction in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels within 6 weeks. Improved quality-of-life, reduction in the volume of tumor deposits and reduction in analgesic use has been demonstrated in hormone refractory patients. Laboratory studies suggest that the beneficial effects of PC-SPES are unrelated to physiologic estrogens. However, PC-SPES has a side-effect profile similar to diethylstilbestrol. There is data demonstrating a <5% risk of thromboembolic events, but this is the first report of DIC.


    The study of PC-SPES is in its infancy. This case may serve as a cautionary note to health care providers and patients regarding herbal remedies. Those using PC-SPES should have an increased level of surveillance for bleeding disorders.