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The Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies by Patients With Cancer

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The aim of this research was to assess the prevalence and predictors of complementary and alternative therapy (CAT) use among cancer patients in Australia. A total of 1492 cancer patients attending nine major public cancer treatment centers in New South Wales, Australia, were asked to complete the Supportive Care Needs Survey. Of the 1354 consenting patients, 888 (65%) returned a completed survey. This article reports the secondary analyses of the survey data, specifically focusing on CAT use. For all cancers, 17.1% of patients were using at least one CAT. The two main demographic characteristics of CAT users were gender and age, where females were more likely to use CAT than males and that CAT use declined as age increased. Time since diagnosis was identified as the only significant clinical predictor of CAT use, where CAT use increased with time until 5 years since diagnosis. Our research shows that herbal treatments and naturopathy are the most popular CAT used by cancer patients (constituting over 30% of all CAT use recorded). The use of CAT among cancer patients is a significant issue in cancer care, especially considering the potential interactions between CAT and conventional medicines. Given that many cancer patients may not be aware of potential risks associated with these interactions it is important that oncologists and others involved in cancer patient care are informed about CAT and its use amongst their patients.
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Keywords: Cancer; Complementary and alternative therapies; Patients; Utilization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology (CHeRP), The Cancer Council NSW & the University of Newcastle, Australia, School of Medical Practice and Population Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Australia 2: Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medical Practice and Population Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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  • Formerly: Oncology Research Incorporating Anti-Cancer Drug Design
    Oncology Research Featuring Preclinical and Clincal Cancer Therapeutics publishes research of the highest quality that contributes to an understanding of cancer in areas of molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, biology, endocrinology, and immunology, as well as studies on the mechanism of action of carcinogens and therapeutic agents, reports dealing with cancer prevention and epidemiology, and clinical trials delineating effective new therapeutic regimens.
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