Current Usage of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Breast Cancer-A Narrative Approach to the Experiences of Women with Breast Cancer in Australia-A Pilot Study.

Author: Porter D1, Cochrane S2, Zhu X3
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup>National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, Penrith 2751, Australia. <sup>2</sup>National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, Penrith 2751, Australia. <sup>3</sup>School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University, Penrith 2751, Australia.
Conference/Journal: Medicines (Basel).
Date published: 2017 Apr 21
Other: Volume ID: 4 , Issue ID: 2 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/medicines4020020. , Word Count: 270

Background: The use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by breast cancer patients is growing. Few studies have examined the complexity of breast cancer survivors' attitudes, lived experiences, barriers, and perceptions in using TCM as part of their treatment journey. This article examines breast cancer survivors' experiences, perceptions of, and benefits (or not) in using TCM. Methods: Qualitative research, using semi-structured interviews, was the chosen methodology. Results: Participants used TCM as a form of self-help and as a complement, not an alternative, to standard care. Overall, 100% of the participants used acupuncture, 62% used Chinese herbal medicine, 23% used Qigong, and 23% used Chinese dietary therapy. Participants reported perceived outcomes and health benefits from TCM usage ranging from increased coping mechanisms, relieving stress and side-effects of standard treatment, the desire to be pro-active in the treatment journey, and to have a locus of control. Some cited the need to have "time-out" and the therapeutic relationship with the practitioner as being important. Conclusion: There is a clear need to understand breast cancer survivors' needs for physical and psychological support as they aim to regain control over their life through their experience of illness. More studies are needed to measure and evaluate these outcomes and to help identify breast cancer survivors' healthcare seeking behaviours, during and after the acute treatment stage that addresses their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. These results aim to inform future research design and evaluate and develop support services that are patient-centred and focus on whole health outcomes, shared decision-making, and quality of life.

KEYWORDS: Chinese herbal medicine; acupuncture; breast cancer; integrative care in oncology; patient experiences; traditional Chinese medicine

PMID: 28930235 DOI: 10.3390/medicines4020020