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Support Care Cancer. 2019 Jan 24. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-4646-2. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of herbal medicine for xerostomia in head and neck cancer patients: an observational study in a tertiary cancer hospital.

Author information

1
Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Unit, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Ministry of Health, Prescint 7, 62250, Putrajaya, Malaysia. limrenj@hotmail.com.
2
First Clinical Medicine College, Jiangsu Province Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, 138 Xianlin Road, Nanjing, 210023, People's Republic of China. limrenj@hotmail.com.
3
Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Unit, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Ministry of Health, Prescint 7, 62250, Putrajaya, Malaysia.
4
Pharmacy Department, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Ministry of Health, Precinct 7, 62250, Putrajaya, Malaysia.
5
Department of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chinese Medicine Resources, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, 40402, Taiwan.
6
Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Ministry of Health, Prescint 7, 62250, Putrajaya, Malaysia.
7
Cancer Centre, Tung Shin Hospital, 102, Jalan Pudu, Bukit Bintang, 55100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
8
First Clinical Medicine College, Jiangsu Province Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, 138 Xianlin Road, Nanjing, 210023, People's Republic of China.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

More than 80% head and neck cancer patients endured radiotherapy-induced xerostomia which impacts their quality of life (QoL). This observational study evaluated the effect of herbal treatment on head and neck cancer patients' xerostomia and QoL.

METHODS:

Head and neck cancer patients were recruited from July 2016 till March 2017 at National Cancer Institute, Ministry of Health, Malaysia. All study participants continued their standard oncology surveillance. Treatment group participants additionally received Chinese herbal treatment. The assessments included unstimulated salivary flow rate (USFR), stimulated salivary flow rate (SSFR), and QoL questionnaire.

RESULTS:

Of 42 recruited participants, 28 were in the treatment group and 14 were in the control group. Participants were mainly Chinese (71.4%), stage III cancer (40.5%), and had nasopharynx cancer (76.2%). The commonly used single herbs were Wu Mei, San Qi, and Tian Hua Fen. Sha Shen Mai Dong Tang, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, and Gan Lu Yin were the frequently prescribed herbal formulas. The baseline characteristics, USFR, SSFR, and QoL between control and treatment groups were comparable (p > 0.05). USFR between control and treatment groups were similar throughout the 6-month study period. SSFR for the treatment group significantly improved from 0.15 ± 0.28 ml/min (baseline) to 0.32 ± 0.22 ml/min (p = 0.04; at the 3rd month) and subsequently achieved 0.46 ± 0.23 ml/min (p = 0.001; at the 6th month). The treatment group had better QoL in terms of speech (p = 0.005), eating (p = 0.02), and head and neck pain (p = 0.04) at the 6th month.

CONCLUSION:

Herbal treatment may improve xerostomia and QoL in post-radiotherapy head and cancer patients.

KEYWORDS:

Chinese herbal drugs; Head and neck neoplasms; Radiotherapy; Xerostomia

PMID:
30675667
DOI:
10.1007/s00520-019-4646-2

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