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Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Sep;2(3):212-6.

A population-based survey of complementary and alternative medicine use in men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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  • 1Tzu Chi Research Group, Vancouver, BC.



To determine prevalence and patterns of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.


Men, diagnosed with prostate cancer over a 10-month period in British Columbia, Canada, were randomly selected to obtain a population-based sample.


Surveys, addressing patient demographics, types of CAM therapies, and CAM information resources utilized, reasons for use, and disclosure to physician(s), were mailed to 1108 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. A 42% response rate was obtained.


Thirty-nine percent of patients used CAM therapies with the most common being herbal supplements (saw palmetto), vitamins (vitamin E), and minerals (selenium). The most common reasons given for choosing to use CAM therapies were to (1) boost the immune system and (2) prevent recurrence. The majority of men (58%) had told their physician(s) about their CAM use, but few utilized either their family physician (15%) or their oncologist (7%) as sources of CAM information. CAM users most commonly consulted friends or family (39%) or the Internet (19%) for information about CAM. CAM users were more likely than nonusers to delay (9%) or decline (4%) conventional treatment. Respondents who had never used CAM had typically never thought about it or did not have enough information about the treatments.


More than one third of recently diagnosed prostate cancer patients utilize some form of CAM therapy, and the majority disclose their use to their physician(s). However, they tend to rely on anecdotal information for their CAM decision making. Dissemination of reliable CAM information is one key to helping men navigate this difficult arena.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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