Use of Complementary/Alternative Therapies by Women with Advanced-Stage Breast Cancer

Published in: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, v. 12, Aug. 2002

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2001

by Joannie Shen, Ronald Andersen, Paul S. Albert, Neil S. Wenger, John Glaspy, Melissa Cole, Paul G. Shekelle

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BACKGROUND: This study sought to describe the pattern of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) use among a group of patients with advanced breast cancer, to examine the main reasons for their CAM use, to identify patient's information sources and their communication pattern with their physicians. METHODS: Face-to-face structured interviews of patients with advanced-stage breast cancer at a comprehensive oncology center. RESULTS: Seventy three percent of patients used CAM; relaxation/meditative techniques and herbal medicine were the most common. The most commonly cited primary reason for CAM use was to boost the immune system, the second, to treat cancer; however these reasons varied depending on specific CAM therapy. Friends or family members and mass media were common primary information source's about CAM. CONCLUSIONS: A high proportion of advanced-stage breast cancer patients used CAM. Discussion with doctors was high for ingested products. Mass media was a prominent source of patient information. Credible sources of CAM information for patients and physicians are needed.

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