Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an alternative treatment for cancer with its effect by stimulating host immune response for cytotoxic activity against liver cancer. No studies evaluated TCM treatment on survival of liver cancer patients.Patients and methods:
This study determined whether the combination of TCM and conventional cancer treatment affects the survival of liver cancer patients. A retrospective cohort study was conducted in 127 237 newly diagnosed liver cancer patients from 2000 to 2009 in the National Health Insurance Program database.Results:
Among these patients, 30 992 (24.36%) used TCM for liver cancer care. All patients were followed up until 2011. The mean follow-up was 5.67 years (SD 1.47) for TCM users and 5.49 years (SD 3.64) for non-TCM users. Compared with patients without TCM use, patients with TCM use were significantly associated with a decreased risk of death [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.64–0.66] with multivariate adjustment. A similar significant protective effect of TCM use across various subgroups of chronic liver diseases was also observed. Jia Wei Xiao Yao San (HR = 0.89, 95% CI = 0.81–0.96) and Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang (HR = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.78–0.95) were the most effective TCM agents that improved survival.Conclusions:
This cohort study provided information that adjunctive therapy with TCM may improve the survival in liver cancer patients. Further studies are needed to confirm the potential role of TCM in HCC.