In a systematic review of surveys completed by cancer patients in the journal Hematology/oncology Clinics of North America, use of TCM therapies during treatment ranged from 2.6-100% in every one of the observed studies. Since many oncology centers do not have their own Chinese medicine departments, we can surmise from this information that cancer survivors are seeking care privately. It is paramount that the modern TCM provider understand cancer patients and their needs, from treatment to survivorship.
Research in the American Cancer Society journal suggests that adjunctive TCM therapy may lower the risk of death in patients with advanced breast cancer. A special issue on cancer survivorship in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine shows the usefulness of TCM for assisting patients living with and beyond cancer. Other research in Medical Acupuncture by de Valois et al demonstrates that acupuncture may support prostate cancer survivors in managing unfavorable symptoms and side-effects of pharmacological treatment.
In addition to integrative care during treatment, Chinese medicine can play an important role in health recovery and maintenance after conventional cancer therapies. In our upcoming Cancer Survivorship: Treatment Strategies for the TCM Provider seminar, we will focus on strategies, challenges and special considerations in treating cancer survivors.