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Most Cancer Patients Use Complementary Medicine, Study Finds

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 06, 2008 12:58 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Prayer and Healing, Living Well, Cancer, Alternative Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Acupuncture, Vitamins, Supplements, FDA and Prescription Drugs

More than 60 percent of cancer patients are seeking out complementary medicine, the American Cancer Society finds.



 IMAGE SOURCE:  ©iStockphoto/ prayer/ author: Imaginegolf


The American Cancer Society (ACS) fields thousands of calls a year from patients wanting to use alternative or complementary medicine along with their traditional cancer treatment.

And patients are using complementary and alternative medicine as an added measure to healing and relieving side effects of treatment, a study by the ACS finds.    

The ACS looked at more than 4,000 volunteers from the ACS Studies of Cancer Survivors. The volunteers included adults who were diagnosed with ten of the most common cancers. They were all surveyed within 24 months after diagnosis. 

The results of the survey are published in the September 1 issue of the journal Cancer.

Complimentary methods (CMs) could include tai chi and yoga, massage, spiritual practices, acupuncture and vitamins.  

Among the most popular option cited was prayer or some type of spiritual practice, reported by 61 percent of the participants.  More than 40 percent of patients turned to relaxation, faith and nutritional supplements.   Between 10 to 15 percent used meditation, massage, support groups and religious counseling to help them through their treatment.

White females, generally younger and with a higher income and education were most likely to use complementary methods in treating their ovarian and breast cancers. African - Americans were more likely to turn to “mind-body methods” which include some sort of spiritual practice.

While vitamins are popular, acupuncture, which helps relieve some symptoms of cancer and its treatment, was used by only 1.2 percent of participants in the ACS study.

And how did the practice affect the outcome?   While some cancer centers study outcomes and complementary methods, the American Cancer Society believes more study needs to be done.   

"Learning more about which CMs help cancer survivors with pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, overall psychological adjustment, and overall physical functioning is very feasible," Dr. Ted Gansler told Reuters Health.  "That information could increase attention and resources for providing CMs that are helpful and reducing the time and money spent on ones that are not."

Information on complementary medicine is among the popular places to visit on the ACS web, Dr. Gansler says. #

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