Bottom Line: This study used data from a nationwide survey to estimate how many patients with cancer and cancer survivors use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMS) in addition to or instead of conventional therapies, and how many don't disclose that to their physicians. Among about 3,100 survey participants reporting a history of cancer, 33.3 percent used CAMs in the past 12 months and the most commonly used were herbal supplements (35.8 percent), followed by other modalities that include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (25.4 percent); massage (14.1 percent); yoga/tai chi/qigong (7.6 percent); mantra/mindfulness/spiritual meditation (6.9 percent); special diets (2.9 percent); and acupuncture (2.0 percent). Among the 1,023 participants who reported using CAM, 288 (29.3 percent) didn't disclose that to their physicians. Many participants said they didn't disclose their CAM use because physicians didn't ask or they didn't think their physicians needed to know. Considering the high proportion of patients with cancer and cancer survivors using CAM, there needs to be more study of its use on cancer outcomes.
Authors: Nina N. Sanford, M.D., of University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, and coauthors
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