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Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Mar;9(1):16-23. doi: 10.1177/1534735409359073.

Prevalence, patterns, and costs of Chinese medicine use among prostate cancer patients: a population-based study in Taiwan.

Author information

  • 1Institute of Traditional Medicine, [corrected] National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan. [corrected]

Erratum in

  • Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):246.



Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI) is a comprehensive and universal program, providing Western medicine (WM) and Chinese medicine (CM). This study aims to explore CM use among prostate cancer patients in NHI.


A cross-section retrospective analysis was conducted using registration and claim data sets from the NHI Research Database. In 2007, 22,352 prostate cancer patients with 265,497 visits of CM and WM ambulatory services were identified. Patient demographics, patterns of therapies, and costs were analyzed.


In 2007, 592 prostate cancer patients (2.6%) had 4141 CM outpatient visits (7.0 on average). The median age was 73.9. The majority (90.5%) of CM users also used WM ambulatory services. About one third of CM outpatient services were provided by private clinics. The most frequently used CM therapies were Chinese herbal medication (93.6%), followed by acupuncture/traumatology manipulative therapies (7.0%). CM accounted for 0.2% expenditure ($87,500) and 1.6% visits of ambulatory services. The average cost per visit for WM was 6.3 times higher than that for CM ($133.6 vs $21).


The prevalence and costs of insurance-covered CM among prostate cancer patients were low. Most prostate cancer patients did not use insurance-covered CM. The majority of CM users also used WM. CM appeared to play a complementary rather than an alternative role.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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