Medline ® Abstract for Reference 32
of 'Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer'
A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study of Chinese herbal medicine as complementary therapy for reduction of chemotherapy-induced toxicity.
Mok TS, Yeo W, Johnson PJ, Hui P, Ho WM, Lam KC, Xu M, Chak K, Chan A, Wong H, Mo F, Zee B
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.
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. email@example.com