The prostate gland is an exocrine gland that forms part of the male reproductive system. The gland is located just below the urinary bladder and it contributes its alkaline secretion to the semen during ejaculation. This helps neutralize the acidic environment of the vagina and thus protects the spermatozoa.
With ageing, the prostate gland gets enlarged and cancer of the prostate may develop. Prostate cancer is the leading cause of male cancer deaths. The incidence and mortality rise exponentially after the age of 50 years with a mean age of 72 years.
The specific aetiology is not known but many risk factors have been identified, with ageing being the strongest of them. Others include: family history of prostate cancer, race (higher in black Americans and Scandinavians but less in Orientals and Caucasians), high fat diets, exposure to cadmium, etc.
The disease is asymptomatic in the early stages and commonly diagnosed only when it’s already advanced. Thus, the patient may present with lower urinary tract symptoms (obstructive or irritative symptoms), hematuria (blood in the urine), urinary incontinence, and symptoms of metastasis to other organs such as back pain, lower limbs paralysis (spread to the spine), cough and bloody sputum (spread to the lungs), headache, seizure (spread to the brain), etc.
Treatment of prostate cancer is determined by the stage of the disease, with early stages having a better prognosis. Options for treatment are surgery, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy. However, with advanced disease the outcome is not encouraging.
The new research has shown that the Chinese traditional herbal medicine, called Equiguard, is effective in preventing or treating both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate carcinoma. It has been discovered to significantly reduce cancer cell growth, induce their death, restrain expression of the androgen receptor, and lower prostate specific antigen (PSA) in vitro.
In another large retrospective study, conducted in Taiwan, researchers found that use of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in combination with conventional medicine, had improved survival rate in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. They followed records of 1132 patients who underwent treatment from 1998 to 2003 and figured out that patients using Chinese Medicine had a lower death rate (22%) compared with nonusers (about 32%). In addition, the longer patients used Chinese medicine, the better chance they had to survive. Researchers concluded that complementary TCM therapy may reduce risk of death in advanced prostate cancer patients.
There is a another case study published in Oncology Letters that the combination of antiandrogens, radiotherapy and Chinese medicine caused a complete regression of an advanced prostate cancer with resolution of the distant metastases. During treatment, biochemical tests performed were found to be within the normal ranges, as well as reduction and normalization of the prostate specific antigen (PSA). The patient has survived for more than 10 years with no development of castration resistance or signs of recurrence.
Despite the fact that the total regress and resolution of advanced cancer can be considered as a rare incident, Chinese medicine has the ability to reduce side effect of radio- and chemotherapy, prolong life and improve a patient’s quality of life.
- Hsieh TC1, Lu X, Guo J, Xiong W, Kunicki J, Darzynkiewicz Z, Wu JM. Effects of Herbal Preparation Equiguard on Hormone-responsive and Hormone-refractory Prostate Carcinoma Cells: Mechanistic Studies. Int J Oncol. 2002 Apr;20(4):681-9. Link
- Liu JM1, Lin PH, Hsu RJ, Chang YH, Cheng KC, Pang ST, Lin SK.Complementary Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy Improves Survival in Patients with Metastatic Prostate Cancer.Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Aug;95(31):e4475. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004475. Link
- Bing Yan, Xianze Meng, Xiaowei Wang, Pinkang Wei, And Zhifeng Qin. Complete Regression of Advanced Prostate Cancer for Ten Years: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Oncol Lett. 2013 Aug; 6(2): 590–594. doi: 10.3892/ol.2013.1377 Link