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Understanding CAM usage by cancer patients


In this study, researchers from James Cook University in Australia systematically reviewed literature to determine the demographic profiles, prevalence and reasons for the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among cancer patients. Their findings were published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

  • The use of CAM has increased in recent years and is steadily increasing, particularly among cancer patients.
  • This can be a safety concern as there is a risk of CAM interactions with anti-cancer therapy.
  • To further understand the use of CAM, the researchers searched three different databases for studies on CAM use in cancer between 2009 and June 2018.
  • They found that, on average, 51 percent of cancer patients during that period used CAM.
  • The common characteristics of these patients were: young, female, highly educated, high-income earners and previous CAM users.
  • The most common reasons these patients gave for using CAM included: for treating their cancer, to influence their overall health and to treat complications of the cancer or therapy.

The researchers hope that their review can help inform health professionals on how cancer patients perceive and use CAM.

Journal Reference:

Keene MR, Heslop IM, Sabesan SS, Glass BD. COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE USE IN CANCER: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. May 2019;35:33–47. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.01.004



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