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Open Access Review

The use of complementary and alternative medicine by cancer patients

Mariama Adams* and Andrew Paul Jewell

Author Affiliations

School of Radiography, Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, St George's University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK

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International Seminars in Surgical Oncology 2007, 4:10  doi:10.1186/1477-7800-4-10

Published: 30 April 2007

Abstract

The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among cancer patients is widespread and appears to be increasing. However, it is not clear whether patients use CAM as an 'alternative' to standard oncology care or as an adjunct to the conventional treatment they receive. This study reviews the role of CAM therapies in the management of cancer, from the view of both patients and health professionals and it highlights issues relating to the efficacy of CAM used by cancer patients. Most patients use CAM to 'complement' the conventional therapies of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery. Health professionals in general have expressed positive views when CAM is used 'complementarily' and not as an 'Alternative'. Results so far published have shown that CAM can contribute to improving the quality of life of cancer patients and their general well-being.