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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:504507. doi: 10.1155/2012/504507. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

Utilization of and Attitudes towards Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapies in a Chinese Cancer Hospital: A Survey of Patients and Physicians.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



In China, the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is very popular, but little is known about how it is integrated with conventional cancer care. We conducted parallel surveys of patients and physicians on TCM utilization.


Two hundred forty-five patients and 72 allopathic physicians at the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center completed questions on their use of and attitude towards TCM.


Patient mean age was 51, with 60% female. Eighty-three percent of patients had used TCM. Use was greatest for Chinese herbal medicine (CHM; 55.8%). Only 1.3% of patients used acupuncture and 6.8% Qi Gong or Tai Qi. Sixty-three percent of patients notified their oncologist about TCM use. The most common reason for use was to improve immune function. CHM was often used with a goal of treating cancer (66.4%), a use that 57% of physicians agreed with. Physicians were most concerned with interference with treatment, lack of evidence, and safety. Ninety percent of physicians have prescribed herbs and 87.5% have used TCM themselves.


The use of TCM by Chinese cancer patients is exceptionally high, and physicians are generally well informed and supportive of patients' use. Botanical agents are much more commonly used than acupuncture or movement-based therapies.

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