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Medicines 2017, 4(2), 20; doi:10.3390/medicines4020020

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

1
National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, Penrith 2751, Australia
2
School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University, Penrith 2751, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: William Chi-shing Cho, Sivarama Vinjamury and Elizabeth Sommers
Received: 13 November 2016 / Revised: 10 April 2017 / Accepted: 10 April 2017 / Published: 21 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer Patients)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [262 KB, uploaded 21 April 2017]

Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: breast cancer; traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; patient experiences; Chinese herbal medicine; integrative care in oncology breast cancer; traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; patient experiences; Chinese herbal medicine; integrative care in oncology
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. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Porter, D.; Cochrane, S.; Zhu, X. 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. Medicines 2017, 4, 20.

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