Background Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use has grown considerably, although there is little research about its prevalence in cancer patients in Europe.
Purpose The main objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of CAM use in adult patients on antineoplastic treatment in a referral cancer centre. The study focused on the use of oral CAM, as pharmacokinetic interactions have been described with chemotherapy.
Material and methods Researchers went to the ambulatory treatment unit of a hospital for 2 weeks. Patients were invited to complete a questionnaire regarding CAM use and sociodemographic variables (age, gender, marital status, educational level). Clinical data were extracted from medical databases (primary tumour, stage of cancer, number of treatments received). Descriptive statistics were calculated and differences between CAM and non-CAM users were assessed using the χ2 test, with the SPSS program. This was an observational, cross sectional study.
Results 316 adult cancer patients were included. 32.3% of patients on antineoplastic treatment reported CAM use. 89% of these patients were ingesting products. Herbs were the most commonly used (66%), followed by natural products (39%, regardless of dietary supplements), vitamins/minerals (35%) and homeopathy (18%). 81% of patients started to use CAM after diagnosis. The main source of information about CAM was family/friends (69%); healthcare professionals did not reach 8%. 65% of patients seemed to have benefits from using CAM, especially improvements in both their physical and psychological well being (29%). Only 2% found CAM of benefit to fight cancer. Independent predictors of CAM use were female sex (p = 0.027), age ≤55 years (p = 0.000), both equal to what other reports showed, and secondary education (p = 0.003). No differences were found in the frequency of CAM use with regard to type and stage of cancer, unlike other studies.
Conclusion A considerable proportion of patients use CAM at the same time as antineoplastic therapy. These practices are mainly initiated after diagnosis and consist of product intake. Precisely, this type of CAM is the one at risk of interacting with chemotherapy. The findings of this study can serve as a guide to identify potential patients who may require advice on CAM in medical and pharmacist consultations.
References and/or Acknowledgements Oncology Department, CHN.
No conflict of interest.
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