Many female cancer patients turn to CAM therapies

A new report from the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta, GA, shows that more than half of cancer patients are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), with CAM methods being more popular among breast and ovarian cancer survivors.

This study looked at the prevalence and the medical and demographic associations of CAM use among cancer survivors surveyed 10 to 24 months after receiving the diagnosis. The study had a sample size of 4,139 survivors of 1 of 10 adult cancers. The patients were selected from stratified random samples provided by statewide cancer registries and surveyed by mail and telephone. The researchers then used three logistic regression models to examine associations between medical and demographic factors and CAM use among survivors of sex-specific and non-sex-specific cancers.

Nineteen CAM therapies were included in the survey. Of these, the most frequently reported were prayer/spiritual practice (61.4%), relaxation (44.3%), faith/spiritual healing (42.4%), nutritional supplements/vitamins (40.1%), meditation (15%), religious counseling (11.3%), massage (11.2%), and support groups (9.7%). The least reported were hypnosis (0.4%), biofeedback therapy (1.0%), and acupuncture/acupressure (1.2%). The cancer survivors more likely to use CAM therapies were female, younger, white, higher income, and more educated.

The study was published online Aug. 4 on the website of the journal Cancer. It will also be included in the Sept. 1st print issue of the journal.

Cancer survivors with "unmet needs" more likely to use CAM therapies

Cancer survivors who say they have multiple types of unmet needs within their cancer treatment and support system are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help with their cancer problems, according to a study published in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice.

The researchers in this study wanted to determine the relationship between patients' perceived unmet needs and their use of CAM therapies to help with cancer problems during and after treatment. The researchers mailed a cross-sectional survey, which was completed by 614 cancer survivors identified through the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry 3.5 to 4 years from initial diagnosis. They then examined the relationships among the unmet needs and CAM use, along with clinical and socio-demographic factors.

The researchers found that respondents who identified any unmet needs were 63% more likely to report CAM use than those without those needs (58% vs. 36%). Unmet needs remained the only independent predictor of CAM use in a multivariate logistic regression model that included age, sex, marital status, education, previous chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Adjusted for covariates, unmet needs in the areas of emotional, physical, nutritional, financial, informational, treatment-related, employment-related, and daily living activities were all related to CAM use, whereas unmet needs in transportation, home care, medical staff, family, and spirituality, were not related to CAM use. Patients who experienced multiple types of unmet needs were also more likely to use multiple types of CAM.

CAM conference on scientific discovery and health set for May

Complementary and alternative (CAM) health professionals may be interested in attending the North American Research Conference on Complementary & Integrative Medicine: Collaboration to Promote Scientific Discovery and Health conference, scheduled for May 12-16, 2009, in Minneapolis, MN.

The conference is sponsored by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine and will showcase original scientific complementary, alternative and integrative medical research through keynote and plenary presentations, oral and poster presentations, and scientific sessions. The directors of this conference want to provide a single event that attracts a "critical mass of cutting-edge, peer-reviewed science and discussion in the broad field of complementary and integrative medical research." Abstracts will be accepted through Sept. 30, 2008. For more information visit