Medical mushrooms - help with life following treatment

I’m almost finished active bc treatment - IDC stage 2 grade 2 Her2 + & ER+. Single mx with no nodal involvement. I had 6 rounds of carboplatin, docetaxel + phesgo and then surgery plus rads. I’m approaching my last Herceptin injection and im on letrozole and zoladex for many years (I was 39 when diagnosed).

I have been very sceptical about other therapies that aren’t traditional drugs however recently had reflexology for help with hot flushes and joint pains and was so surprised at how much it helped. It lead me to start researching other alternative therapies that are sort of thrown at you as an add on at the end of your appointment. I came across a lot of research into medical mushrooms and how they can really work well with breast cancer treatment, specifically immunotherapy like herceptin. No one, especially me is saying mushrooms cure cancer but the research is impressive. The way they can help with treatment side effects is interesting and I wish I’d known about this when I was so sick and struggling on chemo.

I’d like to support my body in any way I can and really considering taking some medical mushrooms - turkey tail or reishi. Will this be ok with letrozole or can you recommend anyone to speak to about this? My oncologist won’t even give me the time of day to discuss.

I struggle with severe bloating and joint/muscle pain and concentration.
Thank you for reeading. x

1 Like

Hi yeatesl83,

Thank you for your post about medical mushrooms. It’s understandable that you would like to support your body to manage the treatment side effects you’re experiencing.

Many people ask about vitamin and herb supplements but there is much we don’t know about them. Herbal treatments, like the medical mushrooms you mention, don’t have to comply with the same regulations or rigorous testing that conventional medicines do.

For many products there is a lack of research to support their use, and some can interfere with conventional medicines including cancer treatments. There are no studies about how either of these mushroom products would interact with an aromatase inhibitor such as letrozole.

This American website, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, has information about Reishi Mushrooms and coriolus versicolor (‘turkey tail’). It has information about other herbs and supplements, but you may find that that some herbs have different names in America. You can also find more information about Reishi mushrooms on the American site Medline Plus.

Although you mention that your oncologist has not been able to the mushrooms, It is important to speak to your treatment team, GP, or a pharmacist before taking any supplements. This pharmacy is run by pharmacists who specialise in complementary medicines, they may be able to offer more information about the use of medical mushrooms whilst on cancer treatment.

Your specialist may recommend that you avoid, or stop taking, herbs or supplements as some of these may affects treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Tell your specialist about any supplements you’re taking or considering taking, including:

  • vitamin and mineral supplements (certain vitamins, particularly high dose antioxidants (including vitamins A, C and E, co-enzyme Q10 and selenium) may affect treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy)
  • herbal remedies (some herbs may have anticoagulant (blood thinning) properties)
  • any treatments that are bought over the counter or online

It sounds as though you have been getting some side effects which may be related to the hormone medication. If you have not done so already, you may find it helpful to talk to your breast care nurse about how you are feeling.

We offer a range of support services for anyone affected by breast cancer. You may find our Moving Forward courses and Younger Women’s support services of interest.

Do call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

If you would prefer one of our nurses to call you. To do this, please complete this form ticking the box agreeing to a call back.

Our usual opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday.

Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

Please read the Ask Our Nurses disclaimer Full details on how we collect and use your data can be found in our Privacy Policy

This thread will now be closed from further replies. If you have any additional questions or would like to provide feedback, please start a new thread.