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Integr Cancer Ther. 2005 Mar;4(1):14-20.

Long-term breast cancer survivors' use of complementary therapies: perceived impact on recovery and prevention of recurrence.

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  • 1American Cancer Society Behavioral Research Center, 1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.



Many cancer survivors use some form of complementary therapy (CT); this is particularly true for women with breast cancer. The majority of reports on CT use in women with breast cancer have focused on CT use during cancer treatment or within a year or two of treatment completion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate longer-term breast cancer survivors' (average, 8.7 years) frequency of CT use and their beliefs about the role of CT in cancer recovery and the prevention of cancer recurrence, as well as the relationship of CT use with current life satisfaction.


A mail survey was completed by 608 breast cancer survivors a minimum of 2 years after their most recent cancer diagnosis. Participants were contacted through the American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery program in Florida. The self-report questionnaire inquired about the use of various CTs, beliefs about CT, current life satisfaction, demographic characteristics, and cancer treatment history.


Most of the respondents were older than 50, were Caucasian, were married, had attended or completed college, and were at least 5 years after breast cancer treatment. The most commonly used CTs included exercise, vitamins, prayer/spiritual practice, support groups, humor, self-help books, and relaxation. These survivors used CT therapies because they wanted to play a more active role in their cancer recovery, to manage stress, and to maintain hope. A majority of them reported that they used CT to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Use of CT was not correlated with life satisfaction.


Most of the breast cancer survivors in this study had used some form of CT since the time of their most recent cancer diagnosis and believed that such therapies could be of significant benefit, despite a lack of correlation between CT use and current life satisfaction. Many believed that use of CT may prevent cancer recurrence. It is important, therefore, to investigate the efficacy of various CTs among longer-term cancer survivors, especially with regard to their potential in preventing cancer recurrence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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