Chinese Breast Cancer Therapy — Research Summary
CURING CANCER WITH SIDE EFFECTS: The main purpose of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells. It is usually used to treat patients with cancer that has spread from the place in the body where it started. Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells anywhere in the body. It even kills cells that have broken off from the main tumor and traveled through the blood or lymph systems to other parts of the body. Some chemotherapy drugs have more side effects than others. Nausea and vomiting are common and may lead to loss of appetite. Some chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, but it is almost always temporary. Low blood cell counts caused by the effect chemotherapy has on the bone marrow can lead to anemia, infections, and easy bleeding and bruising. Chemotherapy can cause irritation and dryness in the mouth and throat. Painful sores may form that can bleed and become infected.
MAKING CHEMOTHERAPY BEARABLE: Although traditional drugs can help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, such medications have their shortcomings. They are frequently insufficient to ward off the most severe bouts of nausea and fatigue, and their efficacy varies from patient to patient. Doctors and patients alike have long wondered whether Eastern medicine, specifically Chinese herbal therapy, might help alleviate chemotherapy's side effects. Until now, all evidence has been strictly anecdotal.
LOOKING TO THE EAST: Debu Tripathy, M.D. is an oncologist at University of California San Francisco's Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. He is currently performing a study designed to determine whether Chinese herbs are effective in mitigating chemotherapy's side effects in breast cancer patients. During the study, 60 women with early stage breast cancer are analyzed through their chemotherapy regimes. Half of the patients receive a predetermined mixture of 21 Chinese herbs. The other half receives a placebo.
DOWN THE ROAD: The Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center is still accepting new patients for the study, which has been underway for the past two years. Dr. Tripathy expects it will take another year and a half before all the results are in. Even then, researchers say they will be very careful before jumping to any conclusions regarding herbal therapy. Even if it proves effective, Dr. Tripathy says researchers will need to confirm the herbs do not actually protect cancer cells along with the rest of the body.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Marina Kenzer, Study Coordinator
University of California, San Francisco
Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center
1600 Divisidero St., 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115-1710
LINK to Chinese herbs/Tibetan
Link directly to
Univ of CT
NIH Clinical Center's
Rehab Med Dept.
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