Are You Still Keeping Secrets From Your Doctor?

If you're a cancer patient using at least one kind of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat your disease, you're certainly not alone and probably not telling your physician about it either.

Close to half of the cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy and radiation use at least one form of CAM treatment, according to a new study. And 75 percent of those patients didn't tell their physicians, even while they received conventional cancer treatments.

A review of the numbers provides just more evidence how patients, in increasing numbers, are turning to alternative medicine:

  • Almost two-thirds of the patients being treated with chemotherapy alone using alternative therapies versus just 35 percent of those only receiving radiation.
  • Virtually all patients who opt for CAM treatments (88 percent) were satisfied with them as a cost-effective cancer treatment and used an average of two (either vitamin, herbal or botanical).
  • Only 36 percent of patients believed their doctors were an important source for information about CAM.

That last number was a major concern to the lead researcher and me, considering some alternative therapies like black cohosh may interfere with the way some drugs respond to cancer. That's why it's important to tell your primary care physician about any alternative therapies you're using.

EurekAlert October 16, 2005

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