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Complement Ther Med. 2011 Jun;19(3):137-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 May 2.

Use of Chinese medicine by women with breast cancer: a nationwide cross-sectional study in Taiwan.

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School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, No. 155 Sec. 2 Li-Nong St., Peitou, Taipei, Taiwan.



The National Health Insurance (NHI) provided Western medicine (WM) and Chinese medicine (CM) in Taiwan. This study aims to explore CM use by women with breast cancer under NHI.


Using NHI Research Database, a retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Women with breast cancer were identified by diagnosis codes. Their claims of CM and WM outpatient services of 2007 were analyzed.


Among 70,012 female breast cancer patients, the prevalence of insurance covered CM was 35.6%. Among all CM users, 4379 (17.5%) patients visited CM for breast cancer. More than half CM users (67.6%) had less than 6 visits and 16.3% users had more than 12 visits. The majority of CM users (87.6%) also used WM ambulatory services. Private clinics (76.7%) provided the most CM services, followed by private hospitals (16.9%). The most frequently used CM therapies were Chinese herbal medicine (80.5%), followed by acupuncture/traumatology manipulative therapies (22.3%). The average cost of CM was US$17.6 per visit and US$119.7 per user annually. CM users were more likely to be younger than 60 years old, employees, with higher income, and not living in Northern Taiwan.


A significant portion of breast cancer patients used insurance covered CM. Most CM users also used WM. The potential of drug-herb interactions should be concerned.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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