Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use in cancer patients

Oncology (Williston Park). 2001 Oct;15(10):1267-72; discussion 1272-8, 1283.


Interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has grown dramatically over the past several years. Cancer patients are always looking for new hope, and many have turned to nontraditional means. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use in cancer patients and what if any agents are being used. Approximately, 100 adult cancer patients in a private nonprofit South Florida hospital completed a descriptive cross-sectional survey questionnaire. The mean age of participants was 59 years; 42 patients were male and 58, female. According to survey results, 80% of patients reported using some type of CAM; 81% took vitamins, 54% took herbal products, 30% used relaxation techniques, 20% received massages, and 10% used home remedies. Among patients who took vitamins, 65% said they took a multivitamin, 39% took vitamin C, and 31%, vitamin E. The most common herbal remedies used were green tea, echinacea, shark cartilage, grape seed extract, and milk thistle. Meditation and deep breathing were the two most common relaxation techniques practiced. A large majority of cancer patients are using CAM. In light of the growing interest in CAM, health-care professionals need to be educated about the most common therapies used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Complementary Therapies / trends
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Hospitals, Voluntary
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Plant Preparations
  • Vitamins