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Cancer Nurs. 2010 May-Jun;33(3):194-200. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181c295ac.

Patterns of the use of complementary and alternative medicine in women with metastatic cancer.

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Department of Internal Medicine Nursing, Ege University School of Nursing, Bornova, Izmir, Turkey.



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been widely used in the general population and in patients with cancer. Female sex and advanced cancer are 2 reported factors contributing to CAM use.


The aim of this study was to examine the patterns of CAM use among women with metastatic cancer.


A total of 68 women were enrolled into this cross-sectional study. All participants were receiving conventional treatment in a single inpatient oncology center. Data were collected from the women through a face-to-face interview guided by a questionnaire. On the basis of women's responses, all participants were divided into 2 groups: CAM users and nonusers.


The 2 cancers most frequently diagnosed in these women were gastrointestinal cancer (36.8%) and breast cancer (33.8%). Of 68 women, 40 (58.8%) reported the use of at least 1 type of CAM therapy after the diagnosis of cancer. There were no significant differences in the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics between CAM users and nonusers (P > .05). The most frequently used CAM method was herbal therapy (34.6%) and the second was nutritional supplements (17.9%). A considerable proportion (60.0%) of CAM users had not discussed their CAM use with their physicians or nurses. Four (10%) patients reported an adverse effect due to CAM use.


Our findings indicate that Turkish women with metastatic cancer seek to use CAM, with a small minority being at risk of potential adverse effects of certain CAM products.


Because of the high prevalence of CAM therapies among women with metastatic cancer, oncology specialists and nurses should increase their knowledge about CAM therapies. Nurses are in a position to provide knowledge and education about CAM therapies and to develop protocols and guidelines about CAM use for patients with cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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