Leukemia is the most common malignancy among all childhood cancers and is associated with a low survival rate in adult patients. Since 1995, the National Health Insurance (NHI) program in Taiwan has been offering insurance coverage for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with conventional Western medicine (WM). This study analyzes the status of TCM utilization in Taiwan, in both pediatric and adult patients with leukemia. A retrospective cohort study was conducted using population-based National Health Insurance Research Database of Registry of Catastrophic Illness, involving patient data from 2001 to 2010 and follow-up data through 2011. The effectiveness of TCM use was evaluated. Relevant sociodemographic data showed that both pediatric and adult patients who were TCM users one year prior to leukemia diagnosis were more likely to utilize TCM services for cancer therapy. A greater part of medical expenditure of TCM users was lower than that of TCM nonusers, except little discrepancy in drug fee of adult patients. The survival rate is also higher in TCM users. Altogether, these data show that TCM has the potential to serve as an adjuvant therapy when combined with conventional WM in the treatment of patients with leukemia.
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine