The following article features coverage from the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Consuming Korean red ginseng (KRG) was reported to improve cancer-related fatigue — a severe symptom — among Korean patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) treated with FOLFOX, according to a presentation at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.1

Yeul H. Kim, MD, from the Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul, presented data were from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. To be enrolled, patients with histologically confirmed CRC were required to have scheduled adjuvant or palliative therapy with the modified FOLFOX6 regimen. Unlike other studies, which had a heterogeneous population, this study enrolled a homogeneous population of patients, Dr Kim noted.

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Of 438 patients, equal number of patients were randomized to receive oral KRG 1000 mg twice daily (219 patients) or oral placebo (219 patients) for 16 weeks. All patients received FOLFOX chemotherapy every 2 weeks.

The primary endpoint of the study was the area under the curve (AUC) of Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI) over 16 weeks.

BFI measures fatigue (in the present), usual fatigue (during the previous 24 hours), worst level of fatigue (during the previous 24 hours), and fatigue as having interfered (during the previous 24 hours) with general activity, mood, walking ability, normal work, relationship with others, and enjoyment for life. All parameters were measured on an 11-point scale (0 = no fatigue/no interference; 10 = worst/complete interference).

At week 16, change from baseline in global BFI was 78.54 for the KRG group and 75.89 for the placebo group (P = .0363). For usual fatigue, corresponding changes from baseline were 76.15 and 73.08, respectively (P = .0454).

Changes from baseline were also significant for the KRG group in the measures of usual fatigue, normal work, mood, relationship with others, enjoyment of life, and walking ability.

The significance was greater for patients older than 60 years and for female patients. Self-reported toxicities were not significant between the 2 groups. These data suggest that consuming 2000 mg KRG per day may provide significant improvement in cancer-related symptoms for patients with CRC. 

RELATED: FOLFOXIRI-Bev May Improve Surgical Resection Rate in Colorectal Cancer

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Kim YH, Lim Y, Cho JY, et al. Korean red ginseng to improve cancer-related fatigue in colorectal cancer patients with FOLFOX chemotherapy : A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel, multicenter trial, NCT02039635. J Clin Oncol. 2017;34(suppl; abstr 10008).