Online survey of patients with breast cancer on complementary and alternative medicine

Breast Care (Basel). 2014 Feb;9(1):60-3. doi: 10.1159/000360381.


About 50% of cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Women with breast cancer use CAM more frequently than others. We linked a questionnaire to the largest internet portal for cancer patients in Germany. The questionnaire addresses attitude towards CAM, disclosure to the oncologist, source of information, and objectives for use of CAM. 80 patients with breast cancer took part in our study, 61 currently using CAM. Most frequently used CAM methods were selenium, relaxation techniques, prayer, vitamin C, and meditation. Satisfaction was highest with relaxation techniques, vitamin C, homeopathy, yoga and Chinese herbs, lowest with mistletoe and acupuncture. 70% of participants did not think their oncologist took time to discuss CAM. Only 16% believed that their oncologist was well-informed about CAM. 46% relied on naturopaths and non-medical practitioners concerning CAM. Objectives for the use of CAM were to reduce side effects, boost the immune system, and become active.

Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; Interaction; Patient information; Patient needs; Patient-physician communication.