Use of CAM among rural prostate cancer patients in one US state

There is significant use of a variety of forms of complementary and alternative forms of medicine (CAM) among patients with localized prostate cancer. A new study in the Journal of Community Health has explored the prevalence and predictors of such behavior in a rural community setting.

Relevant data (at baseline and at 6 months of follow-up) were extracted from a study that  has been exploring factors that influence choices about treatment and quality of life among men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer residing in southwest Georgia (see this prior commentary). The current study is based on data from 321 participants in the larger study; of those 321 participants, 291 were also interviewed at baseline and 6-month follow-up.

According to Butler et al., the original study data together with data from the interviews showed that:

  • At the study baseline (i.e., before actual treatment)
    • 26.4 percent of participants reported ever using CAM.
    • Dietary supplements were the most commonly used (among 75 percent of users of CAM).
    • Just over half of patients who used CAM (56 percent) did not disclose this to their physicians.
  • At 6 months of follow-up
    • 11 percent of the participants reported using CAM since starting treatment.
    • Half of patients using CAM after treatment were new users.
    • CAM use after treatment was more common among those who elected surgical treatment or watchful waiting.
    • 39 percent of patients who used CAM after treatment did not disclose this to their physicians.

The authors conclude that, in this rural population:

  • Use of complementary and alternative medicines after prostate cancer treatment was noticeably less common than in nationally reported data for cancer patients.
  • Younger and more educated patients were significantly more likely to have ever used CAM and to use it after treatment (which is in line with national patterns of behavior in the USA).

One Response

  1. I recently joined the Society for Integrative Oncology as a patient advocate. I think every prostate cancer surviver should be aware of this concept of treating beyond the tumor. For anyone interested in this group, I have given a link to the Society’s web site above.

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