TCM therapy tested against breast cancer

Local experts are experimenting with traditional Chinese medicine to treat a type of breast cancer for which there is no reliable course of treatment.

Local experts are experimenting with traditional Chinese medicine to treat a type of breast cancer for which there is no reliable course of treatment, doctors from Shanghai Longhua Traditional Chinese Medicine announced during a seminar on breast cancer over the weekend.

Specifically, TCM practitioners are targeting triple-negative breast cancer, tumors that are so named because there are no estrogen, progesterone or HER2 receptors needed for most cancer drugs to work. This makes it more difficult to treat it reliably as most hormone and genetic therapies target one of the three receptors.

Triple-negative breast cancer covers about 20 percent of total breast cancer cases. Its five-year survival rate is 7 to 10 percentage points lower than other types of breast cancer.

“For other breast cancer patients, we usually gave TCM therapy to reduce the negative side-effects of Western medical treatment. This allows patients better life quality and better treatment compliance,” said Dr Qin Yuenong, director of the breast disease department at Longhua Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital. “For triple-negative breast cancer, we developed a TCM therapy, which not only deals with cancer but also eases side-effects.”

The hospital has launched two research programs — one lasting three years and another five years — to study its self-developed TCM therapy for patients with triple-negative breast cancer. A medium-term assessment found TCM played a positive role in prolonging life and improving patient conditions.

“We are confident in being able to reduce relapse and metastasis rates by 5 to 8 percent for triple-negative breast cancer in two to three years,” said the hospital’s Liu Sheng, who is leading the five-year program which involves participation of 1,000 patients from across China with triple-negative breast cancer.


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