Cancer Patients Often Use Complementary Methods

In addition to conventional treatments aimed at improving survival, most cancer patients use “complementary methods” (CMs) to relieve symptoms and side effects and increase overall wellness, according to findings from a large study.

The study by the Atlanta-based research team included 4139 adults diagnosed with one of 10 common cancers who were surveyed 10 to 24 months after diagnosis. The results are reported in the medical journal Cancer.

Of 19 CMs included in the survey, the most frequently cited was prayer/spiritual practice, reported by 61 percent of respondents.

Use of relaxation, faith/spiritual healing, and nutritional supplements/vitamins were each reported by more than 40 percent. Between 10 and 15 percent were involved in meditation, religious counseling, massage, and support groups.

Female gender, younger age, white race, higher income, and educational achievement were all predictive of using CMs. However, African Americans had a greater tendency to use “mind-body methods,” including spiritual practices.

One result that is especially interesting is the substantial differences in use of CMs by gender and type of cancer.

The gender gap was particularly wide for energy medicine (tai chi and yoga) and for massage, while CMs in general were much more popular among breast and ovarian cancer survivors than among people with other cancers.

Read more at Reuters