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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 504507, 11 pages
Research Article

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

1Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
2Department of Integrative Oncology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, 270 Dongan Road, Shanghai 200032, China
3Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 0462, Houston, TX 77030, USA
4Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 0462, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 2 May 2012; Accepted 10 September 2012

Academic Editor: Alfredo Vannacci

Copyright © 2012 Jennifer L. McQuade et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. 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. Methods. 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. Results. 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. Conclusion. 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.