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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9469276, 17 pages
Review Article

Chinese Herbal Medicine as an Adjunctive Therapy for Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Center of Reproductive Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine Constitution, School of Preclinical Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100029, China

Received 6 February 2016; Accepted 16 March 2016

Academic Editor: Oliver Micke

Copyright © 2016 Libing Zhu 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.


Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been widely used as an adjunctive therapy for breast cancer, while its efficacy remains unexplored. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of CHM combined with chemotherapy for breast cancer. The study results showed that CHM combined with chemotherapy significantly increased tumor response and KPS as compared to using chemotherapy alone (RR = 1.36; 95% CI = 1.24–1.48; ; RR = 1.38; 95% CI = 1.26–1.52; , resp.). Besides, CHM as an adjunctive therapy significantly reduced the nausea and vomiting at toxicity grade of III–IV (RR = 0.37; 95% CI = 0.27–0.52; ). Moreover, the combined therapy significantly prevented the decline of WBC in patients under chemotherapy at toxicity grade of III–IV (RR = 0.49; 95% CI = 0.34–0.69; ) and prevented the decline of platelet at toxicity grade of III–IV or I–IV (RR = 0.29; 95% CI = 0.12–0.73; ; RR = 0.77; 95% CI = 0.63–0.94; , resp.). This study suggests that CHM combined with chemotherapy in comparison with chemotherapy alone can significantly enhance tumor response, improve KPS, and alleviate toxicity induced by chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. However, a firm conclusion could not be reached due to the lack of high quality trials and large-scale RCTs, so further trials with higher quality and larger scale are needed.