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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2020, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (5): 369-384.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2020.07.005

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Chinese herbal medicines for prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer: from molecular mechanisms to potential clinical applications

Mu-yan Kong, Le-yan Li, Yan-mei Lou, Hong-yu Chi, Jin-jun Wu   

  1. Joint Laboratory for Translational Cancer Research of Chinese Medicine of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, International Institute for Translational Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510006, Guangdong Province, China
  • Received:2020-03-22 Accepted:2020-06-29 Online:2020-09-10 Published:2020-07-30
  • Contact: Jin-jun Wu E-mail:wujinjun@gzucm.edu.cn

Worldwide, colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignant tumors, leading to immense social and economic burdens. Currently, the main treatments for CRC include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. Despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of CRC, the prognosis for CRC patients remains poor. Furthermore, the occurrence of side effects and toxicities severely limits the clinical use of these therapies. Therefore, alternative medications with high efficacy but few side effects are needed. An increasing number of modern pharmacological studies and clinical trials have supported the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) for the prevention and treatment of CRC. CHMs may be able to effectively reduce the risk of CRC, alleviate the adverse reactions caused by chemotherapy, and prolong the survival time of patients with advanced CRC. Studies of molecular mechanisms have provided deeper insight into the roles of molecules from CHMs in treating CRC. This paper summarizes the current understanding of the use of CHMs for the prevention and treatment of CRC, the main molecular mechanisms involved in these processes, the role of CHMs in modulating chemotherapy-induced adverse reactions, and CHM’s potential role in epigenetic regulation of CRC. The current study provides beneficial information on the use of CHMs for the prevention and treatment of CRC in the clinic, and suggests novel directions for new drug discovery against CRC.

Key words: Colorectal neoplasms, Herbal medicine, Preventive medicine, Medicine, Chinese traditional, Molecular mechanisms of pharmacological action, Epigenesis, genetic

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