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Medicinal plant, phak ka dao , a new choice for breast cancer treatment

Lao women suffering from breast cancer are more hopeful of survival after the Association of Breast Cancer Disease in Laos found a reduction in the mortality rate through early screening, intervention and diagnosis and consumption of a plant known as phak ka dao , which has traditionally been used in the treatment of disease.

Use of the plant was employed by the association's experts last year under the Asbestos and Breast Cancer Disease Screening Project which sought to reduce the mortality rate among 100 women living with breast cancer.

Ms Thone (not her real name) has had breast cancer for about a year and said she often felt a burning sensation in her chest.

Phak ka dao is a medicinal plant that has been recommended for the treatment of breast cancer.

Since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she felt uncomfortable and suffered from loss of appetite, insomnia and low energy levels. When she visited Mahosot Hospital she learnt about a new method introduced by the association to treat women with breast cancer.

After eating the plant for a week, her symptoms eased. The burning sensation in her chest eased, she was able to sleep well, and regained her appetite.

Ms Thone said she was happy with the positive results of the treatment. “I hope this plant will keep cancer out of my life so that I can spend as long as possible with my family,” she said. “I will come to the hospital whenever my doctors make an appointment for treatment.”

According to the Association of Breast Cancer Disease, in 2016, about 200 women in Laos presented with abnormalities in the breast, indicating probable breast cancer. About 27 of these women were found to have breast cancer and they all survived after eating the traditional medicinal plant phak ka dao .

Phak ka dao belongs to the Meliaceae , or mahogany family. It is a flowering plant family of mostly trees and shrubs (and a few herbaceous plants, mangroves) in the order Sapindales.

The Association found that consumption of the plant delayed the progress of breast cancer in women aged 45-50. This group is particularly at risk due to the effects of hormone imbalance, late menstruation and delayed pregnancy.

“Breast cancer can be so aggressive that if women don't receive treatment promptly they could die within one month,” Association President Dr Saifone Phounsavanh said.

Worldwide, about 600,000 women die from breast cancer every year, with those in the 45-50 age group particularly at risk.

Director General of the Institute of Traditional Medicine, Associate Professor Dr Kongmany Sydara, said the institute has not yet conducted any studies on the benefits of pha ka dao as a form of treatment. However, according to a book on traditional medicine, pha ka dao is used to treat malaria and diabetes.

It is possible that phak ka dao may be effective in the treatment of breast cancer. This is because one type of plant can be classified for use in more than 1,000 remedies. “I believe that this is positive research for medicinal plants. Phak ka dao is abundant in Laos and will provide more curative opportunities for women with breast cancer,” Dr Kongmany said.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 18, 2017)

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