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Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

The authors aimed to assess the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine used with conventional breast cancer treatments on breast cancer survival.

Some background

Traditional Chinese medicine is an alternative therapy that can complement breast cancer treatments. This generally includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture or massage. Previous studies suggest that this type of alternative treatment can treat patient symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue and menopausal symptoms.

To date, however, the effect of traditional Chinese medicine on the prognosis (treatment outlook) of patients with advanced breast cancer is not well studied.

Methods & findings

The aim of this study was to determine whether traditional Chinese medicine could have a positive effect on the survival of breast cancer patients undergoing conventional breast cancer treatments.

A total of 729 women with advanced breast cancer were evaluated. All of these patients were receiving treatment using taxanes (a type of chemotherapy drug). These included docetaxel (Taxotere) or paclitaxel (Taxol). 115 of the women were allocated to a course of traditionql Chinese medicine for 3-6 months. 95% of these women had undergone chemotherapy and 59% had undergone a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast). The remaining 614 women in the study did not receive any traditional Chinese medicine.

Overall, the women who received traditional Chinese medicine had a 47% reduced likelihood of death. Only 28% of the women receiving this treatment were not alive at the 3 year follow up; compared to 40% of the women who did not receive this treatment

Furthermore, prolonged use (more than 6 months) of traditional Chinese treatment showed a 54% decreased likelihood of death.

The bottom line

The authors suggested that receiving traditional Chinese medicine alongside conventional cancer treatments could improve the survival of patients with advanced breast cancer.

The fine print

This was the first study of its kind and occurred in Taiwanese patients.

What’s next?

Discuss the various types of traditional Chinese medicine with your doctor if it applies to your case.

Published By :


Date :

Feb 03, 2014

Original Title :

Adjunctive traditional Chinese medicine therapy improves survival in patients with advanced breast cancer: A population-based study.

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