The aims of this study were to evaluate the efficacy of herbal medicine for the prevention and management of hand–foot syndrome (HFS) induced by fluoropyrimidines and to identify herbs associated with HFS alleviation for further research. The PubMed, Cochrane, Springer, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and Wanfang databases were searched up to May 2017 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated herbal medicine for relieving HFS in patients undergoing fluoropyrimidine‐based chemotherapy. Study evaluation and synthesis methods were in accordance with the Cochrane Handbook, and data were analyzed using RevMan 5.3. In total, 35 RCTs (2,668 participants) were included.
Meta‐analysis showed that the addition of herbal medicine significantly reduced the incidences of all‐grade and high‐grade HFS. The total effective rate and complete remission rate of HFS patients increased significantly with herbal medicine arm. Further sensitivity analysis identified Paeoniae Radix Alba, Carthami Flos, Cinnamomi Ramulus, and Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma as being consistently associated with significant reductions in HFS incidence without important heterogeneity. However, the lack of blinding in most studies may have led to overestimation of these effects. More high‐quality RCTs and experimental research are needed to confirm and investigate the efficacy of the herbs identified in this study.
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