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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 32

of 'Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer'

32
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A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study of Chinese herbal medicine as complementary therapy for reduction of chemotherapy-induced toxicity.
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Mok TS, Yeo W, Johnson PJ, Hui P, Ho WM, Lam KC, Xu M, Chak K, Chan A, Wong H, Mo F, Zee B
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Ann Oncol. 2007;18(4):768. Epub 2007 Jan 17.
 
BACKGROUND: Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is a common complementary therapy used by patients with cancer for reduction of chemotherapy-induced toxic effects. This study applied the highest standard of clinical trial methodology to examine the role of CHM in reducing chemotherapy-induced toxicity, while maintaining a tailored approach to therapy.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with early-stage breast or colon cancer who required postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy were eligible for the study. Enrolled patients were randomly assigned to one of three Chinese herbalists who evaluated and prescribed a combination of single-item packaged herbal extract granules. Patients received either CHM or placebo packages with a corresponding serial number. The placebo package contained nontherapeutic herbs with an artificial smell and taste similar to a typical herbal tea. The primary end points were hematologic and non-hematologic toxicity according to the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria Version 2.
RESULTS: One hundred and twenty patients were accrued at the time of premature study termination. Patient characteristics of the two groups were similar. The incidence of grade 3/4 anemia, leukopenia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia for the CHM and placebo groups were 5.4%, 47.3%, 52.7%, and 1.8% and 1.8%, 32.2%, 44.7%, and 3.6%, respectively (P = 0.27, 0.37, 0.63, and 0.13, respectively). Incidence of grade 2 nausea was the only non-hematologic toxicity that was significantly reduced in the CHM group (14.6% versus 35.7%, P = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS: Traditional CHM does not reduce the hematologic toxicity associated with chemotherapy. CHM, however, does have a significant impact on control of nausea.
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Department of Clinical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Institute of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Cancer Institute, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), China. tony@clo.cuhk.edu.hk
PMID