Frontiers of Medicine

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 127–133 | Cite as

Developments in cancer prevention and treatment using traditional Chinese medicine

  • Hongsheng Lin
  • Jie Liu
  • Ying Zhang


Through the joint efforts of several generations of practitioners in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and integrated medicine of oncology, we have made some achievements in cancer treatment using TCM in over 50 years, including treatment concepts, methods, and basic and clinical research. Currently, TCM plays an indispensable role in cancer prevention and treatment. However, we also clearly recognize that there are some issues that have yet to be resolved. In the future, cancer treated with TCM will face unprecedented opportunities and challenges. This article reviews the developments of TCM in the treatment of cancer.


traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) cancer 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM. GLOBOCAN 2008, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. 2010. Available from: Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Han YY, Feng P, Wen ZhY. Research development on Chinese herbs of anticancer. J Beijing TCM (Beijing Zhong Yi) 2003; (2):45–48 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gao WB. Research development on Chinese herbs of anticancer. Med J Liaoning (Liaoning Yi Yao) 1977; (6): 29–33 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tian JZh. Pharmacological classification and clinical significance of anti-cancer Chinese herbs. J Shandong College Tradit Chin Med (Shandong Zhong Yi Xue Yuan Xue Bao) 1986; 10(2): 16–19 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tang MX, Yu GQ, Duan FW. An antitumorigenic study by a TCM formula belonging to the category of enhancing the righteousness and consolidating the foundation. Chin J Cancer (Ai Zheng) 1986; 5(1): 65–69 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Zhang DZh, Xu JD, Li PW, Dong XR, Hao YX, Li X, Cai GR, Cui HJ, Wan DG, Zhou W, Yu GQ. Clinical and experimental researches on improving radiation sensibility for lung cancer patients by “Fu Zheng Zeng Xiao”(FZ). Chin J Surg of Integr Tradit West Med (Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Wai Ke Za Zhi) 1998; 4(2): 71–75 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Liu JX, Xu ZY, Shi ZM, Guo YH, Fan ZhZ, Li MH, Huang JM, Zhu YW, Zhao LH, Shi ChM, Gao H, Chen SX. Prospective study on Fuzheng treatment in 122 advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients. China J Tradit Chin Med Pharm(Zhongguo Yi Yao Xue Bao) 1987; 2(1): 12–16 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Pan MJ, Li YH, Chen LF. Observation of the long term curative effect of 150 cases of nasopharyngeal cancer treated with Fu Zheng Sheng Jin decoction and radiotherapy. J Integr Tradit West Med (Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi) 1985; 5(2): 83–85 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cai WM, Hu YH, Zhang HX, Xu GZh, Qin DX, Wu XL, Yan JH, Gu XZh. Prospective controlled trial of nasopharyngeal carcinoma treated with traditional Chinese medicine and radiation therapy. J Tradit Chin Med (Zhong Yi Za Zhi) 1983; (9): 36–38 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Zhang DZh. Integrated traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine in advanced lung cancer. J China-Japan Friendship Hosp (Zhong Ri You Hao Yi Yuan Xue Bao) 1987; 1(1): 33–37 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Liu LM, Lin ShY, Wu LC, Wang ZS, Zhou WSh, Guo Y, Shen MH, Yang WH. Xie ChSh. Clinical observation on the synergic and detoxified action of injection of Radix Codonopsis and Radix Ophiopogonis in chemotherapy of lung cancer. J Tradit Chin Med (Zhong Yi Za Zhi) 1994; 35(5): 280–282 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sun GZh, Wang GM, Chen ChH, Song L, Zhang PT, Pan XM, Hou W, Zhang PY, Yang ZY. YGQ. Clinical and experimental study on treatment of advanced gastrointestinal carcinoma with Fuzheng-Fangai oral liquid combined with chemotherapy. Chin J Surg of Integr Tradit West Med(Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Wai Ke Za Zhi) 1995; 1(5): 266–270 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fang XX, Wang ShH, Li LQ, Wang L. Observation of treatment with integrative medicine to reduce chemotherapy-induced leukocyte and platelet in 168 patients. J Clin Oncol (Lin Chuang Zhong Liu Xue Za Zhi) 1997; 2(3): 56 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dong Y, Lu B, Zhang X, Zhang J, Lai L, Li D, Wu Y, Song Y, Luo J, Pang X, Yi Z, Liu M. Cucurbitacin E, a tetracyclic triterpenes compound from Chinese medicine, inhibits tumor angiogenesis through VEGFR2-mediated Jak2-STAT3 signaling pathway. Carcinogenesis 2010; 31(12): 2097–2104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zhang XW, Yan XJ, Zhou ZR, Yang FF, Wu ZY, Sun HB, Liang WX, Song AX, Lallemand-Breitenbach V, Jeanne M, Zhang QY, Yang HY, Huang QH, Zhou GB, Tong JH, Zhang Y, Wu JH, Hu HY, de Thé H, Chen SJ, Chen Z. Arsenic trioxide controls the fate of the PML-RARalpha oncoprotein by directly binding PML. Science 2010; 328(5975): 240–243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Li PC, Lam E, Roos WP, Zdzienicka MZ, Kaina B, Efferth T. Artesunate derived from traditional Chinese medicine induces DNA damage and repair. Cancer Res 2008; 68(11): 4347–4351PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chen X, Murakami T, Oppenheim JJ, Howard OM. Triptolide, a constituent of immunosuppressive Chinese herbal medicine, is a potent suppressor of dendritic-cell maturation and trafficking. Blood 2005; 106(7): 2409–2416PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Tsai CH, Lin FM, Yang YC, Lee MT, Cha TL, Wu GJ, Hsieh SC, Hsiao PW. Herbal extract of Wedelia chinensis attenuates androgen receptor activity and orthotopic growth of prostate cancer in nude mice. Clin Cancer Res 2009; 15(17): 5435–5444PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lin HS, Li ShQ, Piao BK. Effective evaluation methods for treatment with traditional Chinese medicine in advanced lung cancer. Bull Chin Cancer (Zhongguo Zhong Liu) 2000; 9(8): 354–355 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zhang PT, Yu MW, Yang ZY, Li DR, Liu YH, Lin HSh. Compared study on effective evaluation methods of TCM and WM in advanced non-small cell lung cancer. J Integr Tradit West Med(Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi) 2010; 30(7): 702–705 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lin LZh, Lan ShQ, Zhou DH. A discussion on the criterion of therapeutical effect of malignant tumor(solid carcinoma) in TCM. New J Tradit Chin Med(Xin Zhong Yi) 2001; 33(8): 5–6 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sun HY, Xing YM, Li YW, Liu DY, Xie GR. Quality evaluation of randomized controlled trails in Chinese medicine combined with chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer. 3rd International Congress of TCM and Integrated TCM-WM Oncology. 2010, 84–85 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Lin HSh, Zhang Y. Evidence-based medical study of TCM on nonsmall cell lung cancer. World Sci Technol—Modernization Tradit Chin Med (Shi Jie Ke Xue Ji Shu—Zhong Yi Yao Xian Dai Hua) 2008;(4): 121–125 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Sun Y, Lin H, Zhu YZH, Feng JF, Chen ZhT, Li GS, Zhang XR, Zhang ZQ, Tang JF, Shi MQ, Hao XZH, Han H. A randomized, prospective, multi-centre clinical trial of NP regimen (vinorelbine + cisplatin) plus Gensing Rg3 in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients. Chin J Lung Cancer (Zhongguo Fei Ai Za Zhi) 2006; 9(3): 254–258 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology-Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer V.2. 2009. Available from:
  26. 26.
    Zheng ChS, Chen LW, Huang Q, Hu J, Du J, Xu XJ. Establishment of computer simulation analysis for Multi-target anti-tumor effect of Chinese medicine. J Fujian College Tradit Chin Med (Fujian Zhong Yi Xue Yuan Xue Bao) 2007; 17(3): 37–40 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wu Q, Bi ZhM, Li P, Qi LW. Advances in biological screening-chemical analysis of the bioactive components in traditional Chinese medicines based on holistic characteristics. J China Pharm Univ (Zhongguo Yao Ke Da Xue Xue Bao) 2007; 38(4): 289–293 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hao H, Cui N, Wang G, Xiang B, Liang Y, Xu X, Zhang H, Yang J, Zheng C, Wu L, Gong P, Wang W. Global detection and identification of non-target components from herbal preparations by liquid chromatography hybrid ion trap time-of-flight mass spectrometry and a strategy. Anal Chem 2008; 80(21): 8187–8194PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Zhou XZh, Liu BY, Yao NL, Chen SB, Li P, Wang YH, Zhang RSh. Studies and Applications: TCM Clinical Data Warehouse and Associated Data Mining Platform. World Sci Technol—Modernization Tradit Chin Med (Shi Jie Ke Xue Ji Shu—Zhong Yi Yao Xian Dai Hua) 2007; 9(4): 74–80 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Liu J, Lin HSh, Hou W, Li DR, Zhou XZh. Pilot study on the characteristics of Chinese medicine treatment in lung cancer patients by use of data mining methods. World Sci Technol—Modernization Tradit Chin Med (Shi Jie Ke Xue Ji Shu—Zhong Yi Yao Xian Dai Hua) 2009; 11(5): 753–757 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Investment Advisor in the Industry Research Center. 2010–2015 Investment Analysis of Chinese medicine industry and Forecast Report. 2010, 5. Available from:
  32. 32.
    Sparreboom A, Cox MC, Acharya MR, Figg WD. Herbal remedies in the United States: potential adverse interactions with anticancer agents. J Clin Oncol 2004; 22(12): 2489–2503PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Gan T, Wu Z, Tian L, Wang Y. Chinese herbal medicines for induction of remission in advanced or late gastric cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010; (1): CD005096Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wei X, Chen Z, Yang X, Wu T. Chinese herbal medicines for esophageal cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009; (4): CD004520Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    McCulloch M, See C, Shu XJ, Broffman M, Kramer A, Fan WY, Gao J, Lieb W, Shieh K, Colford JM Jr. Astragalus-based Chinese herbs and platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: meta-analysis of randomized trials. J Clin Oncol 2006; 24(3): 419–430PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oncology, Guang’anmen HospitalChina Academy of Chinese Medical SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations