Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Understudied Cancer Treatment Option

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an oriental practice that is thousands of years old. It involves the use of medications prepared from herbs, massage and acupuncture, diet and exercise.

Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis that impacts not only the patient but also those close to her. An increasing number of medical studies is demonstrating the success of eastern alternative treatments and in some cases revealing them to be just as or even more effective than their traditional medicine counterparts.

Prescription spending in the U.S. for the prior year exceeded $457 billion and over $107 billion of that was spent on cancer-related drugs. For this year, approximately 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed. Many advocates of alternative treatments cite this as a leading factor that has hindered further research and study of these non-traditional options.

This article explores data related to the efficacy of TCM herbal remedies in the treatment of cancer.

TCM has been a standard treatment for cancer and related disorders throughout China’s recorded history. A clinical review of controlled clinical studies of the top 7 cancers treated with TCM and reported in 4 electronic databases that included the Chinese Scientific Journal Database and the Chinese BioMedical Literature Database provided over 2,900 articles related to cancer that were studied.

The study found that the positive outcome most frequently reported from TCM treatment was with clinical symptom improvement in over 56 percent of the reviewed cases. The next highest successful outcome from the treatment were with laboratory index measurements, which were approximately 43 percent of the cases.

Several of the articles also reported on the palliative use of TCM when prescribed alongside traditional western medication. Reduction of side-effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy accounted for approximately 37 percent.

The researchers reported that TCM is not only effective in the treatment of existing cancerous conditions, but expressed a deep interest in TCM’s ability to prevent relapse, metastasis and side-effects associated with conventional treatments, where TCM has had a demonstratively higher impact.

The clinical evidence supporting the use of eastern alternative medicine, TCM, to prevent and treat cancer is substantial and warrants additional study by researchers.

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