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Am J Surg. 2000 May;179(5):407-11.

A comparison of complementary therapy use between breast cancer patients and patients with other primary tumor sites.

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Department of Surgery, Oregon Health Sciences University, and Legacy Health Systems, Portland, Oregon, USA.



Interest in complementary therapies in the United States is rising. We sought to characterize the use of complementary therapies among our cancer patients in our community and analyze differences in use between patients with breast versus those with other primary tumor sites.


A survey of 1,935 randomly selected patients from the tumor registry was performed. A questionnaire was mailed to 935 breast cancer patients and 1,000 patients with other primary site diagnoses.


There were 617 responses (288 breast, 329 other). Seventy-five patients (75%) reported use of a complementary modality. Top therapies used were nutrition (63%), massage (53%), and healing herbs (44%). The most common reason for use, immune modulation (73%), was similar in both groups. Therapy was used consistently by 84% of breast patients versus 66% of others (P = 0.003).


A significant number of cancer patients are using complementary therapies. Breast cancer patients are far more likely to be consistent users compared with other tumor sites.

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