Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Jan 5;92(1):42-7.

Alternative therapies used by women with breast cancer in four ethnic populations.

Author information

  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0560, USA.



Interest in alternative therapies is growing rapidly in the United States. We studied the types and prevalence of conventional and alternative therapies used by women in four ethnic groups (Latino, white, black, and Chinese) diagnosed with breast cancer from 1990 through 1992 in San Francisco, CA, and explored factors influencing the choices of their therapies.


Subjects (n = 379) completed a 30-minute telephone interview in their preferred language. Logistic regression models assessed factors associated with the use of alternative therapies after a diagnosis of breast cancer.


About one half of the women used at least one type of alternative therapy, and about one third used two types; most therapies were used for a duration of less than 6 months. Both the alternative therapies used and factors influencing the choice of therapy varied by ethnicity. Blacks most often used spiritual healing (36%), Chinese most often used herbal remedies (22%), and Latino women most often used dietary therapies (30%) and spiritual healing (26%). Among whites, 35% used dietary methods and 21% used physical methods, such as massage and acupuncture. In general, women who had a higher educational level or income, were of younger age, had private insurance, and exercised or attended support groups were more likely to use alternative therapies. About half of the women using alternative therapies reported discussing this use with their physicians. More than 90% of the subjects found the therapies helpful and would recommend them to their friends.


Given the high prevalence of alternative therapies used in San Francisco by the four ethnic groups and the relatively poor communication between patients and doctors, physicians who treat patients with breast cancer should initiate dialogues on this topic to better understand patients' choices with regard to treatment options.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center