The Role of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicines in Management of Patients with Cancer-related Fatigue
Pp. 122-147 (26)
Marcin Włodarczyk, Paweł Siwiński and Aleksandra Tarasiuk
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2015 cancer was the
primary cause of death of 8.8 million people, which transfers to every sixth death
globally. The number of newly diagnosed cancer cases annually is expected to reach
more than 23 million over the next 2 decades. Cancer describes a large group of
diseases originating in uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, debilitating
for the patient and usually requiring complex long-term treatment. Surgery,
chemotherapy and radiotherapy are considered as the most common conventional
cancer therapies. These treatment strategies, however, are associated with limitations
and clinical results are often unsatisfactory. Therefore, combined and more effective
therapies in cancer treatment must be implemented.
Traditional herbal medicines (THM) have been used in treatment of cancer for
thousands of years in majority of Asian countries. It is also a common practice
nowadays to combine THM with Western cancer management schemes, consolidating
a variety of natural agents into one treatment strategy. The use of herbal products in
cancer therapy, over the last years, has received much attention also in Western
countries becoming more popular among patients, with a prevalence reaching up to
80%. Large number of these medications is also widely approved as a form of
complementary and alternative medicine in cancer treatment in both Europe and United
Clinical challenge in management of cancer is cancer-related fatigue (CRF), which is a
persistent sense of tiredness associated with the treatment or the disease itself that
cannot be eliminated by rest. THM in the recent years presents with a wide range of
opportunities among which management of adverse treatment effects and fatigue
emerge as worth investigating. Herbal medicines may be considered as an effective and
safe treatment of CRF.
In conclusion, herbal medicines possess a wide range of activities in relation to cancer
treatment. Natural medical agents may reduce cancer-related fatigue as well as damage
to gastrointestinal, respiratory and nervous systems. However, considering, little
scientific knowledge about efficacy and safety of herbal products consecutive
controlled clinical studies are needed to fully verify this matter.
Cancer, Fatigue, Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Department of General and Colorectal Surgery, Faculty of Military Medicine, Medical University of Lodz, Poland.