SINGAPORE - One of the more common alternative treatment options here is traditional Chinese medicine or TCM.
Several doctors and hospitals here use the ancient system of medicine to complement conventional treatments.
TCM consultants at the Bao Zhong Tang TCM Centre at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), consult with their Western medical counterparts.
Bao Zhong Tang is a partnership between SingHealth - SGH is the largest of its nine institutions - and the Shanghai Hospital Development Center, which manages and operates 23 public hospitals in the Chinese city.
Dr Sun Hui Li, a senior TCM consultant, explains that cancer patients who are elderly or too frail to withstand harsh chemotherapy can benefit from the treatment.
After a consultation, patients are prescribed herbs to alleviate their cancer-related symptoms. She recalls a breast cancer patient who was able to continue with her chemotherapy according to schedule with the help of TCM.
"The Western doctors were telling her that her immune system was weak and that her blood count was not at a suitable level to continue with the chemo.
"But with the help of TCM, she did not have to postpone the treatment," she says.
Dr Sun stresses that TCM should not be seen as a replacement for conventional Western medicine, but should be paired with the latter for optimal results.
"In some cases of benign tumours, TCM may be able to assist by removing it from the body via consumption of herbal medication," she adds.
However, this depends on the individual and the nature of the tumour, as well as its size and location within the body," advises Miss Miao Meng, a TCM physician at Raffles Chinese Medicine.
This article was first published in The New Paper.