Abstract and key points
- PC-SPES is a food supplement promoted to improve prostate health and popular amongst prostate cancer patients. It was withdrawn from the market due to contamination with prescription drugs but many products claiming to be its substitute remain available.
- Clinical evidence from mainly preliminary studies is meaningless in the light of the contamination issues.
- PC-SPES is associated with substantial risks.
PC-SPES is a combination of eight herbs: Dendranthema morifolium; Isatis indigotica; Glycyrrhiza uralensis; Ganoderma lucidum; Panax pseudoginseng; Rabdosia rubescens; Serenoa repens; and Scutellaria baicalensis. The product was promoted for prostate health and was popular with prostate cancer patients. The original PC-SPES product was recalled by the FDA due to contamination with prescription drugs and withdrawn from the market by the producer. Numerous products claiming to be substitutes of PC-SPES are, however, still available.
There is a lack of double-blind clinical trials and only limited data from case reports and observational or preliminary studies are available. Although overall a significant decrease in prostate-specific antigen levels was observed, the above mentioned contamination issues render these results meaningless. An improved PC-Spes2 preparation was evaluated in an uncontrolled study which did not confirm the encouraging results. Other similar products have not been clinically investigated.
There are several risks associated with PC-SPES in addition to the contamination of PC-SPES with synthetic drugs. Adverse events are common and even severe reactions are on record. Products claiming to be PC-SPES replacements without quality control exist.
CitationLiene Dhooghe, CAM-Cancer Consortium. PC-SPES [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/PC-SPES. February 8, 2017.
Assessed as up to date in February 2017 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in January 2015 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in August 2013 by Barbara Wider.
Summary first published in January 2012, authored by Liene Dhooghe.
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