Use of Complementary Traditional Chinese Medicines by Adult Cancer Patients in Taiwan: A Nationwide Population-Based Study.

Author: Kuo YT1,2, Chang TT1,3, Muo CH4, Wu MY3, Sun MF1,3, Yeh CC2,5, Yen HR1,3,6
11 Graduate Institue of Chinese Medicine, School of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.
22 Department of Chinese Medicine, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, Chia-Yi, Taiwan.
33 Department of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
44 Health Data Management Office, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
55 School of Post-Baccalaureate Chinese Medicine, Tzu Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan.
66 Department of Biotechnology, Asia Univeristy, Taichung, Taiwan.
Conference/Journal: Integr Cancer Ther.
Date published: 2017 Jun 1
Other: Volume ID: 1534735417716302 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/1534735417716302. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 303

BACKGROUND: Many patients with cancer seek complementary and alternative medicine treatments. We investigated the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) by adult cancer patients in Taiwan.

METHODS: We reviewed the Registry for Catastrophic Illness Patients Database of Taiwan, and included all adult patients diagnosed cancer, based on the International Classification of Diseases (ninth revision), from 2001 to 2009 and followed until 2011. This database allowed categorization of patients as TCM users (n = 74 620) or non-TCM users (n = 508 179). All demographic and clinical claims data were analyzed.

RESULTS: Compared with non-TCM users, TCM users were younger and more likely to be female, white-collar workers, and reside in highly urbanized areas. The average interval between cancer diagnosis and TCM consultation was 15.3 months. The most common cancer type was breast cancer in TCM users (19.4%), and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in non-TCM users (13.6%). The major condition for which TCM users visited clinics were endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases, and immunity disorders (23.2%). A total of 33.1% of TCM users visited TCM clinics more than 9 times per year and their time from diagnosis to first TCM consultation was 5.14 months. The most common TCM treatment was Chinese herbal medicine. The common diseases for which cancer patients sought TCM treatment were insomnia, malaise and fatigue, dizziness and headache, gastrointestinal disorders, myalgia and fasciitis, anxiety, and depression. Overall, TCM users had a lower adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) for mortality (aHR = 0.69, 95% CI = 0.68-0.70) after adjustment for age, sex, urbanization of residence, occupation, annual medical center visits, and annual non-medical center visits.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides an overview of TCM usage among adult cancer patients in Taiwan. TCM use varied among patients with different types of cancer. Physicians caring for cancer patients should pay more attention to their patients' use of complementary TCM.

KEYWORDS: National Health Insurance Research Database; acupuncture; cancer; complementary and alternative medicine; traditional Chinese medicine

PMID: 28665160 DOI: 10.1177/1534735417716302