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South Med J. 2005 Mar;98(3):289-94.

Approach to communicating with patients about the use of nutritional supplements in cancer care.

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Education Project, Department of Family Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1123, USA.


In recent years, complementary and alternative medicine has become popular among the general population in the Western world. Cancer patients have joined this global trend, often seeking supplements to conventional oncologic care, usually without their physicians' knowledge. Among the most common forms of complementary and alternative medicine used by cancer patients are natural products such as herbs and megavitamins. The extensive use of nutritional supplements by cancer patients raises multiple questions and challenges for the physician. Since there are limited scientific data on the efficacy and safety of many nutritional supplements, advising patients about when to use them during the course of illness is difficult. This is true for each stage of cancer care: prevention, acute active care (radiation, chemotherapy, surgery), and post-acute care (follow-up visits and prevention of recurrence). The authors describe a patient-centered approach to the use of nutritional supplements in cancer care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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