2015 Volume 9 Issue 1 Pages 16-34
Recent studies indicate that Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can play an important role in the whole course of cancer treatment such as recovery stages of post-operative, radiotherapy or chemotherapy stages instead of only terminal stage of cancer. In this review, we have summarized current evidence for using TCM as adjuvant cancer treatment in different stages of cancer lesions. Some TCMs (e.g., TJ-41, Liu-jun-zi-tang, PHY906, Coumarin, and Aescine) are capable of improving the post-operative symptoms such as fatigue, pain, appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and lymphedema. Some TCMs (e.g., Ginseng, Huang-Qi, BanZhiLian, TJ-48, Huachansu injection, Shenqi fuzheng injection, and Kanglaite injection) in combination with chemo- or radio-therapy are capable of enhancing the efficacy of and diminishing the side effects and complications caused by chemo- and radiotherapy. Taken together, they have great advantages in terms of suppressing tumor progression, relieving surgery complications, increasing the sensitivity of chemo- and radio- therapeutics, improving an organism's immune system function, and lessening the damage caused by surgery, chemo- or radio-therapeutics. They have significant effects on relieving breast cancer-related lymphedema, reducing cancer-related fatigue and pain, improving radiation pneumonitis and gastrointestinal side effects, protecting liver function, and even ameliorating bone marrow suppression. This review of those medicines should contribute to an understanding of Chinese herbal medicines as an adjunctive therapy in the whole course of cancer treatment instead of only terminal stage of cancer, by providing useful information for development of more effective anti-cancer drugs and making more patients "survival with cancer" for a long time.