Use of complementary/integrative methods: cancer survivors' misconceptions about recurrence prevention.

Author: Gansler T1, Strollo S2, Fallon E2, Leach C2
Author Information:
1Intramural Research, American Cancer Society, 250 Williams Street, Atlanta, GA, 30303-1002, USA.
2Behavioral and Epidemiology Research Group, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Conference/Journal: J Cancer Surviv.
Date published: 2019 May 8
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1007/s11764-019-00762-0. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 257

PURPOSE: Many cancer survivors use complementary and alternative health methods (CAM). Because we are unaware of high-level evidence supporting CAM for preventing cancer recurrence, we studied post-treatment survivors who use CAM to assess (1) the percentage who included preventing recurrence as a motive for using CAM, (2) characteristics of survivors who use CAM intended to prevent recurrence, and (3) CAM domains associated with use for recurrence prevention.

METHODS: We studied participants in the American Cancer Society's Study of Cancer Survivors-I (nationwide study of adult survivors) who used CAM (excluding osteopathy, yoga, tai chi, or qi gong users, as well as anyone whose only reported CAM was prayer/meditation). Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine associations of independent variables with CAM use for recurrence prevention.

RESULTS: Among 1220 survivors using CAM, 14.8% reported recurrence prevention as a reason for CAM use (although only 0.4% indicated this was their only reason). The following were independently associated with odds of CAM use to prevent recurrence: not being married/in a marriage-like relationship (OR = 1.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-2.23), using mind-body (OR = 1.65, 95% CI 1.08-2.51) or biologically based (OR = 4.11, 95% CI 1.96-8.59) CAM and clinically relevant fear of recurrence (OR = 1.96, 95% CI 1.38-2.78).

CONCLUSIONS: Approximately 1/7 of survivors who use CAM have unrealistic expectations about CAM reducing recurrence risk. This expectation is strongly associated with the use of biologically based CAM.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Patient education should support informed decisions and realistic expectations regarding any complementary/integrative or mainstream/conventional clinical intervention.

KEYWORDS: Cancer recurrence; Cancer survivorship; Complementary and alternative methods; Integrative oncology; Questionnaire

PMID: 31069624 DOI: 10.1007/s11764-019-00762-0