The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by cancer patients

School of Radiography, Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, St George's University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK.
International Seminars in Surgical Oncology 02/2007; 4(1):10. DOI: 10.1186/1477-7800-4-10
Source: PubMed


The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among cancer patients is widespread and appears to be increasing. However, it is not clear whether patients use CAM as an 'alternative' to standard oncology care or as an adjunct to the conventional treatment they receive. This study reviews the role of CAM therapies in the management of cancer, from the view of both patients and health professionals and it highlights issues relating to the efficacy of CAM used by cancer patients. Most patients use CAM to 'complement' the conventional therapies of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery. Health professionals in general have expressed positive views when CAM is used 'complementarily' and not as an 'Alternative'. Results so far published have shown that CAM can contribute to improving the quality of life of cancer patients and their general well-being.

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    • "Pain relief is an important work in the ED and there are many medications for LBP with each medication having both benefits and side effects [10] [11] [12] [13]. Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most popular complementary alternative medicines in the world and it has been widely utilized for pain, including low back pain, osteoarthritis, headache, and cancer [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]. We found that there are many studies assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic LBP but few for acute LBP [15] [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction. Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common complaints in the emergency department (ED). There are several research articles providing evidence for acupuncture for treating chronic LBP but few about treating acute LBP. This study assessed the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for the treatment of acute LBP in the ED. Materials and methods. A clinical pilot cohort study was conducted. 60 participants, recruited in the ED, were divided into experimental and control groups with 1 dropout during the study. Life-threatening conditions or severe neurological defects were excluded. The experimental group (n = 45) received a series of fixed points of acupuncture. The control group (n = 14) received sham acupuncture by pasting seed-patches near acupoints. Back pain was measured using the visual analog scale (VAS) at three time points: baseline and immediately after and 3 days after intervention as the primary outcome. The secondary outcomes were heart rate variability (HRV) and adverse events. Results. The VAS demonstrated a significant decrease (P value <0.001) for the experimental group after 15 minutes of acupuncture. The variation in HRV showed no significant difference in either group. No adverse event was reported. Conclusion. Acupuncture might provide immediate effect in reducing the pain of acute LBP safely.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    • "The interventions were CAM or CAM in combination with conventional cancer treatments. Here, we used the definitions by the WHO: “A comprehensive term used to refer to both traditional medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine, Indian ayurverda, Arabic unani medicine, and to various forms of indigenous medicine” [8]. The treatments include psychological and self-help therapies, physical therapies (aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, and shiatsu), and unconventional medicine or drugs (homeopathy, herbal medicine, Essiac, and Bach flower remedies) [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background and Objective. Now with more and more published systematic reviews of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) on adult cancer pain, it is necessary to use the methods of overview of systematic review to summarize available evidence, appraise the evidence level, and give suggestions to future research and practice. Methods. A comprehensive search (the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, and ISI Web of Knowledge) was conducted to identify all systematic reviews or meta-analyses of CAM on adult cancer pain. And the evidence levels were evaluated using GRADE approach. Results. 27 systematic reviews were included. Based on available evidence, we could find that psychoeducational interventions, music interventions, acupuncture plus drug therapy, Chinese herbal medicine plus cancer therapy, compound kushen injection, reflexology, lycopene, TENS, qigong, cupping, cannabis, Reiki, homeopathy (Traumeel), and creative arts therapies might have beneficial effects on adult cancer pain. No benefits were found for acupuncture (versus drug therapy or shame acupuncture), and the results were inconsistent for massage therapy, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), and Viscum album L plus cancer treatment. However, the evidence levels for these interventions were low or moderate due to high risk of bias and/or small sample size of primary studies. Conclusion. CAM may be beneficial for alleviating cancer pain, but the evidence levels were found to be low or moderate. Future large and rigor randomized controlled studies are needed to confirm the benefits of CAM on adult cancer pain.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    • "parental presence and complementary alternative medicines) methods to reduce the incidence of preoperative anxiety and relieve children's pain (He et al., 2010; Kessler et al., 2006; Pölkki et al., 2008; Wright et al., 2007). Over the last three decades, the use of complementary and alternative nonpharmacological approaches has increased considerably in pediatrics as well as in the adult population (Adams and Jewell, 2007). Parents of hospitalized children express a keen interest in providing these practices for their children during hospitalization: it was recently estimated that 11.8 percent of children in the United States use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) (Barnes et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated whether a clown doctor intervention could reduce preoperative anxiety in children hospitalized for minor surgery and in their parents. A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 77 children and 119 parents: the clown group consisted of 52 children accompanied in the preoperating room by their parents (n = 89) and two clowns while the comparison group consisted of children accompanied by the parents only. The clown intervention significantly reduced the children's preoperative anxiety: children benefited from the clown's presence and showed better adjustment than children in the comparison group. No significant results were found in parents.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Journal of Health Psychology
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