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J Glob Oncol. 2018 Sep;(4):1-6. doi: 10.1200/JGO.2016.008896. Epub 2017 Apr 18.

Prevalence of Complementary Medicine Use in Patients With Cancer: A Turkish Comprehensive Cancer Center Experience.

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Suayib Yalcin and Pervin Hurmuz, Hacettepe University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey; and Lacey McQuinn and Aung Naing, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been popular among patients with cancer for several decades. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the prevalence of CAM use and to identify the factors affecting CAM use in a large patient cohort seen at a comprehensive cancer center in Turkey.


An investigator-designed survey was completed by volunteer patients who visited the outpatient clinic in the medical oncology department. CAM use encompassed pharmacologic agents including vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal products or nonpharmacologic methods like prayer, meditation, hypnosis, massage, or acupuncture.


Of 1,499 patients who answered the survey, 1,433 (96%) used nonpharmacologic CAM and 60 (4%) used pharmacologic CAM (pCAM). The most frequent types of CAM used were prayer (n = 1,433) followed by herbal products (n = 42). pCAM use was not significantly associated with age ( P = .63), sex ( P = .15), diagnosis ( P = .15), or income level ( P = .09). However, it was significantly associated with the level of education ( P = .0067) and employment status ( P < .001). Patients with higher education levels used more pCAM products ( P = .025). Among 60 pCAM users, six patients (10%) used pCAM for more than 2 years and 22 (36%) did not consult their physicians about their pCAM use. Only nine patients (15%) reported unpleasant adverse effects related to pCAM.


Although CAM use was high among our patients, prevalence of pCAM use was lower than expected. Patients with higher education levels tended to use more pCAM.

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