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Support Care Cancer. 2015 Oct;23(10):2989-94. doi: 10.1007/s00520-015-2666-0. Epub 2015 Feb 28.

Symptom burden and integrative medicine in cancer survivorship.

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Department of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.



The purpose of the study was to learn about the level of experience with, interest in, and desire for knowledge about integrative medicine (IM) among cancer survivors.


Cancer survivors attending the 2014 National Cancer Survivors Day in Rochester, MN, were recruited to participate in a one-page survey about their ongoing health concerns and symptoms, as well as their experience with, interest in, and desire for knowledge about IM. Two-sided t test was used for univariate analyses of impact of sex, time since diagnosis, and age.


Among the 260 cancer survivors, 171 persons (female, 74 %; male, 26 %) completed the survey (mean age, 64.6 years). Symptoms most commonly somewhat or more bothersome were fear of recurrence (52 %), stress (43 %), fatigue (43 %), difficulty sleeping (33 %), and weight gain (31 %). The most used IM resources were exercise (75 %), improved nutrition and diet (66 %), stress management (42 %), dietary supplementation (33 %), meditation (25 %), and massage (22 %). Older patients (age, ≥65 years) were less experienced with, interested in, and desiring of knowledge about IM techniques. Sex and time since diagnosis were not strongly predictive of most survey response categories.


Cancer survivors have adverse effects for years into survivorship. They use and express interest in various IM techniques to help manage symptoms. It is critical that oncology providers help survivors address ongoing health concerns. Education about and access to evidence-based IM techniques may have important roles in comprehensive cancer survivorship programs.

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