Complementary and alternative medicine and newly diagnosed prostate cancer

A new study from a team associated with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, reports data on the use of complementary and alternative forms of medicine (CAM) in the management of newly diagnosed prostate cancer.

McDermott et al. surveyed a group of prostate cancer patients about their use of CAM and evaluated some of the things that correlated with CAM use at 6 months following diagnosis. All patients in this study were initially diagnosed at community urology practices between May 1, 2005 and December 31, 2006.

The basic findings of their study showed that:

  • 52 percent of survey respondents (n =379) reported using one or more types of CAM.
  • Of the patients using CAM
    •  51 percent used one form of CAM.
    • 26 percent used two forms of CAM.
    • 23 percent used three or more forms of CAM.
  • Mind-body therapies were the most commonly used form of CAM (at 65 percent).
  • More than half the patients (57 percent) did not discuss their use of CAM with a health professional.
  • Of the 43 percent of patients who did discuss their use of CAM with a health professional
    • 20 percent told their primary care physician.
    • 30 percent told the doctor managing their prostate cancer care.
  • Less than half of the patients using CAM thought it was “very helpful.”
  • A majority of the patients using CAM thought it was “somewhat helpful.”

Unfortunately it is not clear from the abstract exactly what forms of CAM were included in this survey. It may have been confined to types of CAM like yoga, acupuncture, and behavioral therapies or it may also have included the use of supplements.

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