Delay or refusal of conventional cancer treatment (CCT), when done in favor of alternative medicine (AM), may have serious survival implications for cancer patients. However, due to data scarcity, there is limited information about the use and effectiveness of AM.
To address this knowledge gap, a study was performed in the USA to identify the factors associated with AM selection and compared survival outcomes between AM and CCT.
Patients who underwent AM were identified as those that received “other-unproven cancer treatments administered by nonmedical personnel” and who also did not receive CCT, defined as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and/or hormone therapy.
Patients who initially chose AM for treatment of curable cancer instead of CCT were rare; they were more likely to be younger, to be female, to have breast or lung cancer, to have worse five-year survival, and to have higher cancer stage, income, and education.
The study concludes that (A) cancer patients who initially chose treatment with AM without CCT were more likely to die, and (B) it is necessary to both improve the communication between patients and caregivers and investigate the use of AM for the initial treatment of cancer.
: complementary and integrative medicine are not the same as AM. While complementary and integrative medicine incorporate a wide range of therapies that complement conventional medicine, AM is an unproven therapy that was given in place of conventional treatment.
See reference for more information
Adapted from Johnson SB; Park HS; Gross CP; Yu JB. Use of alternative medicine for cancer and its impact on survival. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 110, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 121–124. Internet. Accessed on August 7, 2019. Available at https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djx145