Chinese medicine under trial for cancer cure
April 21, 2000
Hong Kong (dpa) - Research is being conducted to see if cancer patients benefit from the use of traditional Chinese medicine in treating side effects of conventional cancer treatment, a report said Friday.
The study began at three hospitals in February and examined the impact of Chinese medicine on reducing side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the South China Morning Post reported.
Professor Johnathan Sham shun-tong, head of clinical oncology at the University of Hong Kong said 20 nasal cancer patients whose condition had not improved with conventional therapy were in the programme.
Speaking at a workshop on Chinese medicine and cancer on Thursday, he said: "We are examining whether Chinese medicine can help relieve the side effects of radiotherapy on these patients, in particular oral inflammation."
Patients suffering from breast and liver cancer will also be included in the experiment in six months. At present, the use of qi gong as a form of supplementary treatment for cancer patients is practised at one hospital in Hong Kong.
Clinical trials are also under way to test the effectiveness of Chinese medicine on cancer. Professor Sham said a patient would be advised to turn to Chinese medicine only when conventional treatment proved unsatisfactory.
"We think it is unfair to rule out the benefits of conventional therapy on the patient before he actually gets to try it," he said.
Sham said 70 to 80 per cent of cancer patients receiving treatment consulted Chinese-medicine physicians at their own discretion and that some patients did not tell their doctors about undergoing alternative treatment.
He pointed out that research on the effect of using combined Chinese and Western cancer treatment was insufficient.
"I think the medical profession would have to perform sustantive clinical research, so that patients can find out how they can combine these treatments in the most effective way."
He said however some patients' conditions did improve after receiving traditional Chinese medicine.