Background: Some breast cancer patients opt for alternative treatments in place of conventional treatments. The lack of published data on the outcome of this strategy may contribute to this trend.
Methods: A chart review was performed of breast cancer patients who refused or delayed standard surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Prognosis was calculated for recommended and actual therapy.
Results: Thirty-three patients were included in the analysis. Of 11 patients who initially refused surgery, 10 developed disease progression. Of 3 patients who refused adequate nodal sampling, 1 developed nodal recurrence. Of 10 patients who refused local control procedures, 2 developed local recurrences and 2 died of metastatic disease. By refusing chemotherapy, 9 patients increased their estimated 10-year mortality rate from 17% to 25%.
Conclusions: Alternative therapies used as primary treatment for breast cancer are associated with increased recurrence and death. Homeopathy instead of surgery resulted in disease progression in most patients. These data may aid patients who are considering alternative therapies.