Complementary medicine use linked to conventional cancer care refusal
medwireNews: Cancer patients who use complementary medicine (CM) are more likely to refuse conventional care than nonusers, suggests a study that uncovered a link between this pattern and poor survival.
The researchers compared the overall survival (OS) of 258 patients who used unproven cancer treatments administered by a nonmedical person between 2004 and 2013 for prostate, breast, lung or colorectal cancer, in addition to at least one form of conventional medicine.
Compared with 1032 matched nonusers, CM users were significantly more likely to refuse surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation, report James Yu and co-authors, from Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, in JAMA Oncology.
Use of CM led to significantly poorer 5-year OS (82.2 vs 86.6% for nonusers) but this association was no longer significant after adjusting for patients who had refused conventional care and for delays in treatment delivery.
“Given the hesitance on behalf of patients to disclose nonmedical therapy to their clinicians, health care professionals need to be proactive in discussing CM and adherence to conventional medicine treatment with their patients,” the researchers conclude.
“For patients with curable cancers who are inclined to pursue complementary treatment methods, timely adherence to all recommended conventional therapies should be strongly advised.”
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