Challenges Conducting Clinical Trials with Herbal Products in Oncology



Patients with cancer are increasingly using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. As many as 90% of patients with cancer might use some form of CAM therapy [1]; over 50% initiate these treatments after the diagnosis of cancer [2]. Patients use these treatments despite substantial advances in conventional medicine and lack of evidence of efficacy of many CAM treatments. This ‘return to nature’ movement that is largely consumer driven is primarily directed to help relieve symptoms, improve quality of life, and prevent recurrence of the cancer and not for the cure of the primary tumor [3–5]. Because most natural cancer cures investigated in clinical trials to date have either shown no benefit (e.g., shark cartilage [6]) or have shown a potential for harm (e.g., Laetrile [7]), the use of these products as alternative treatments seems inappropriate; their use as complementary treatments should be judicious and individualized until further research data are available [8].


Oral Mucositis Herbal Product Black Cohosh Tripterygium Wilfordii Ginsenoside Content 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Integrative Medicine, Division of General Internal MedicineMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA

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