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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2010, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (12): 1159-1164.doi: 10.3736/jcim20101208

• Original Clinical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Clinical study on survival benefit for elderly patients with resected stage I or E colorectal cancer based on traditional Chinese medicine syndrome differentiation and treatment

 Li Taoa,Ying-jie Zhua, Xian-mei Lua,Ying Gua,Ai-guang Zhaoa,Jian Zhenga,Chuan-gang Fub,Jin-kun Yanga   

  1. a First Department of Oncology, Longhua Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
    b Department of Anorectal Surgery, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • Received:2010-07-15 Accepted:2010-08-15 Online:2010-12-20 Published:2010-12-15
  • Contact: Jian Zheng


The incidence of colorectal cancer is high among the elderly. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been widely used in the treatment for colorectal cancer of old people. However, controlled trials with large sample size evaluating the effect of TCM are rare.


This research aimed to evaluate the survival benefit of using TCM syndrome differentiation treatment for elderly patients with stage Ⅱ or Ⅲ colorectal cancer. Design, setting, participants and interventions: A total of 78 patients over 70 with resected stage Ⅱ or Ⅲ colorectal cancer were selected from the First Department of Oncology, Longhua Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Department of Anorectal Surgery, Changhai Hospital of Second Military Medical University. Patients were assigned to either integrated treatment group or Western medicine group by their own wills.Main outcome measures: Cox regression analysis was performed to determine all the potential factors which may affect prognosis such as gender, primary site, pathological type, TNM stage, chemotherapy period, radiotherapy and TCM therapy.


A total of 78 cases were included in this study with 37 cases in integrated treatment group and 41 cases in Western medicine group. Cox regression analysis suggested that the TNM stage (P=0.001) and TCM therapy (P=0.021) were independent prognostic factors. The hazard ratio [Exp(β)] of TCM therapy was 0.393, and 95% confidence interval (CI) was 0.178-0.870. Median disease-free survival (DFS) of Western medicine group was 41.293 months. DFS of integrated treatment group did not reach the median at the time of analysis. There was significant difference between the two groups (P=0.012). The 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year DFS rates of Western medicine group were 87.7%, 69.6%, 63.4%, 46.5%, and 29.6%, respectively. The 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year DFS rates of integrated therapy group were 100%, 86.3%, 74.6%, 74.6%, and 74.6%, respectively.


TCM syndrome differentiation and treatment is important for improving the prognosis of stage Ⅱ or Ⅲ colorectal cancer in elderly patients. Integrated treatment shows benefit for reducing relapse and metastasis rates, and prolonging survival for elderly patients. The influence of integrated treatment needs to be further evaluated.

Key words: Colorectal neoplasms, Aged, Syndrome differentiation treatment, Disease-free survival, Disease-free survival, Clinical trial

Table 1

Assignment table"

Factor Assignment
Gender Male: 1; Female: 2.
Primary site Colon: 1; Rectum: 2.
TNM stage Stage II : 1 ? Stage IE : 2.
Pathological type Adenocarcinoma/ Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma : 1 ; Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma/ Mucinous adenocarcinoma/ Signet-ring cell carcinoma: 2.
Chemotherapy times 3 — 5 times: 1; ^6 times: 2.
Radiotherapy Non-radiotherapy: 0; Radiotherapy: 1.
TCM therapy No: 0; Yes: 1.
Relapse or metastasis No: 0; Yes: 1.

Table 2

Characteristics of baseline data of patients in two groups"

Item Integrated treatment group (n=37) Western medicine group (n = 41)
Gender Male 22 23
Female 15 18
Primary site Colon 29 25
Rectum 8 16
TNM stage Stage II 22 21
Stage IE 15 20
Pathological type Adenocarcinoma/Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 31 35
Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma/Mucinous adenocarcinoma/ Signet-ring cell carcinoma 6 6
Chemotherapy times 3 — 5 times 4 9
^6 times 33 32
Radiotherapy Non-radiotherapy 35 34
Radiotherapy 2 7
Relapse or metastasis Yes 9 20
No 28 21

Table 3

Constituent ratio comparison of two groups"

Factor Integrated treatment group Western medicine group P value
n Constituent ratio (%) n Constituent ratio (%)
Gender Male 22 22/37 (59.5) 23 23/41 (56.1) 0. 764
Female 15 15/37 (40.5) 18 18/41 (43.9)
Primary site Colon 29 29/37 (78.4) 25 25/41 (61.0) 0. 096
Rectum 8 8/37 (21.6) 16 16/41 (39.0)
TNM stage Stage II 22 22/37 (60.8) 21 21/41 (46.9) 0.465
Stage IE 15 15/37 (39.2) 20 20/41 (53.1)
Pathological type Adenocarcinoma/Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 31 31/37 (83.8) 35 35/41 (85.4)
Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma/ Mucinous adenocarcinoma/Signet-ring cell carcinoma 6 6/37 (16.2) 6 6/41 (14.6) 0.847
Chemotherapy times 3 — 5 times 4 4/37 (10.8) 9 9/41 (22.0) 0. 187
^6 times 33 33/37 (89.2) 32 32/41 (78.0)
Radiotherapy Yes 35 35/37 (94.6) 34 34/41 (82.9) 0. 209

Table 4

Multivariate analysis of factors influencing DFS of resected stage Ⅱ or Ⅲ colorectal cancer in elderly people by Cox proportional hazard model"

Factor Regression coefficient (6) Standard error Wald test (W) jP value Hflmrd ratio [Exp (^D] 95^ Cl for Exp(fl)
Lower Upper
TNM stage 1,347 0.414 10, 583 0,001 3. 845 1,708 8,660
Chemotherapy times -0. 937 0.483 3.763 0,052 0.392 0,152 1,010
TCM therapy -0, 933 0,405 5,307 0.021 0,393 0,178 0,870

Figure 1

Disease-free survival curve of two groups"

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