One in two patients use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) before and during cancer treatments, however many do not discuss such therapies with their oncologist, according to research presented at the 2018 congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).
Researchers at the University Hospital Mannheim in Germany surveyed 152 outpatients with sarcoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) and desmoid tumours, receiving care at a sarcoma centre to determine their use of CAMs. A broad range of therapies were considered to be CAMs, including vitamin or mineral supplements, Chinese or healing herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi and ‘therapeutic’ diets.
Approximately 51 per cent of participants had used CAMs during their lifetime. Fifteen per cent only used them during their disease and in parallel with cancer treatments. Cancer diagnosis had sparked interest in CAMs in 44 per cent of participants.
Sixty per cent of patients recognised that they had insufficient information on the safety of CAMs but demonstrated low concern for potential risks. Only 7 per cent sought safety information on CAMs from their oncologist compared to almost half having asked an oncologist for information on safety issues related to conventional cancer therapies.