Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Liver Protection
and Chemotherapy Completion Among Cancer Patients
Mei-Ling Liu, Li-Yin Chien, Cheng-Jeng Tai, Kuan-Chia Lin and Chen-Jei Tai
While traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is widely used among Chinese patients with cancer, studies evaluating the effectiveness of TCM using objective indicators are rare. We examined the effectiveness of TCM for liver protection and completion of chemotherapy among patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy. We used a case–control design to examine the medical records of patients with cancer who received chemotherapy in a teaching hospital in Taipei in 2004. A total of 184 courses of chemotherapy among 89 patients were studied. Of the 184 courses, 42 used TCM jointly with chemotherapy served as cases, while the remaining 142 courses served as controls. Outcome variables included counts of cancelled or delayed chemotherapies and liver function (aspartate aminotransferase, AST and alanine aminotransferase, ALT) 1 week before, during and 2 weeks after chemotherapy. Generalized estimating equations were used to analyze the data. Patients who had concomitant TCM with chemotherapy had lower serum ALT and AST during chemotherapy than the controls given that the age, sex, cancer stage, radiotherapy sites, cancer diagnosis and potential hepatotoxicity of the chemotherapeutic drugs were controlled for in the model [β = -3.48, 95% confidence interval (CI) -10.08 to 3.11 for AST; β = -5.95, 95% CI: -11.47 to -0.44 for ALT]. There was no significant difference between the case and control groups for odds of completing one course of chemotherapy. Use of TCM with chemotherapy resulted in protection of the liver during chemotherapy, as manifested by lower serum AST and ALT levels.
Keywords: chemotherapy, liver function, traditional Chinese medicine
- Treatment Protocols: TCM medications used in this study were concentrated herbal extracts in the form of powders produced by a GMP-certified pharmaceutical company in Taiwan (Sun Ten Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, Taichung, Taiwan). The TCM medications were prescribed for three times daily after meal. Each dosage comprised 5 g of TCM powder.
- Data Analysis
- Subject Demographics
- AST Levels
- ALT Levels
- Chemotherapy Completion
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