1 September 2007: Breast Cancer Treatment: When East Meets West

It is believed that there is room for improvement in Breast cancer treatment by integrating Chinese and Western medications. Clinically speaking, Western medicine is still the main stream of treatment. Their Chinese counterparts normally plays a supporting role both preceding or trailing the course of western treatment. According to relevant reports published overseas, the majority (up to 70% -80%) of cancer patients who have completed the treatment from Western medicine are quite prepared to seek other forms of medical treatments, which includes Chinese medicine. It is envisaged that they are doing this on the belief that Western cancer treatment alone leaves something to be desired. In this context, Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation has invited Dr. Oliver Chiu, both a registered Chinese medical practitioner and a Western medical doctor by training, to advise breast cancer convalescents on how to take care of themselves properly in their daily living. It is noted that Dr. Chiu’s advice is based on the perspective of both Western and Chinese clinical treatments.

According to Dr. Chiu, cancer treatments are, at least hitherto, delivered on the key reliance of Western medical science, which includes surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other target therapies or treatments. Chinese medication plays a supporting role before and after surgical operations, mainly to lessen the side-effects of radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. From the perspective of Chinese medical practitioners, radiotherapy adopted in western medical science is in fact some form of fiery-poison that invariably causes skin burns or inflammation and other negative effects . All these conditions need dietetic therapeutics for recuperation purposes. Common Chinese herbals in our diet for such therapeutic purpose include sea-weeds, hawthorns, tangerine seeds and processed roses.

As a matter of tradition and in the view of Chinese medical practitioners, breast cancer can be caused by “depression, deep sorrow and dietetic disorder”. The deficiency of the ‘protective body energy’ as it is usually known (which in fact means the immune system of the body) would result in the formation of phlegm and body poison. The accumulation of these evils substances will block the flow of blood , bodily fluid and energy inside the body, thus giving rise to blood clotting, energy congestion and phlegm crystals which may block the meridians and develop into breast cancer. But Western medical practitioners find all these clinical theories unimaginable, as otherwise considered by their Chinese counterparts.

The motto upheld by Chinese medical practitioners is always “Treatment only comes after Diagnosis”. In other words, treatments are delivered and drugs prescribed only after full clinical consultations are made and diagnosis is clearly known. But modern medical science goes one step further to conduct various researches to obtain a clear notion of the patient’s emotions, dietetic and drilling habits to see if these have a bearing on the cause and/or relapse of breast cancer.

To sum up, Dr. Chiu is of the view that Chinese medical practitioners hail to “upholding the Good to driving away the Evil”. This in fact boils down to enhancing the immune function by way of keeping a balanced diet plus regular exercises and staying away from alcohol, spicy, stimulating and oily drinks and food.

Speaker’s Profile:
Dr. Chiu is presently a registered Chinese medical practitioner. He has a Bachelor degree in Chinese Medicine and also, he is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery of Hong Kong University and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General practitioner.