Angry Doctor

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cow Dung 5

angry doc was planning to write about this letter to the ST Forum today, but 'I must be stupid' beat him to it.

angry doc has been aware of cancerstory.com for a while now. He had previously thought that the site had done a good job of cautioning readers against unproven therapy, but this letter shows that Ms Lee is not quite critical when it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

There are studies that show that acupuncture is effective at reducing nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, but as we have seen previously, this probably merely demonstrates that sticking needles into people may relieve certain symptoms, and does not validate the theories behind TCM.

In other words, it is one thing to say that certain therapies used traditionally in TCM work and can help some cancer patients, and another altogether to say that TCM works and that its inclusion in cancer care is "the greatest gift to people living with cancer".

The failure to make this distinction allows a whole host of unproven therapies under the umbrella of TCM to be passed off as proven therapies, and the failure to make this distinction clear to patients when we offer TCM therapies in a conventional hospital gives them the erroneous impression that the theories behind TCM are scientific and validated.

Is there a place for 'alternative' therapies in the care of cancer patients in a western medicine hospital? Certianly - any therapy that proves itself to be effective and beneficial it will cease to be 'alternative', and will simply be called proven therapy.

Conversely, any therapy that has not been proven to be effective and beneficial should not be blindly accepted and practised just because it belongs to the same family from which an effective therapy has come from.

It is not about the 'supremacy' of western medicine, but about intellectual honesty and having a critical mind in the kind of healthcare we offer people who seek it.

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4 Comments:

  • Actually I would like to point out this note documented in wikipedia
    Hua tuo
    The existence of this drug Is real and predate modern medicine.I really hope that TCM see more use here because it really helps the patients.The early surgeries are usually performed by Barbers and they often suffer casualty in the process the situation only improve when they started using carbolic acid before surgery. So What I mean to say is that East or west it doesn't really matter who is better.The most important is that they can save lives.Sidenote During the ottoman period there is an exchange of medical information in the muslim world and european world so that they can "Save more life"Side side note The (華佗)method of castration is pass on though how dreadful.......

    By Anonymous Onlooker, At October 29, 2007 9:28 pm  

  • onlooker,

    Thanks for writing.

    I agree with most of your statements, but perhaps you would like to explain to us what exactly you mean when you say "TCM... really helps the patients", and provide us with the evidence upon which you based that statement.

    If you have good-quality evidence that TCM can help "save more lives" of cancer patients over and above what modern treatment modalities can offer, do post a it (or a link to it) here and I will pass the information on to my oncology colleagues.

    Thank you.

    By Blogger angry doc, At October 29, 2007 10:26 pm  

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