The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Scandinavia

Anticancer Res. 2016 Jul;36(7):3243-51.


Background: Complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is widely used among patients with cancer. This usage may have potentially harmful effects, especially when combined with anticancer drugs. However, some complementary methods may benefit patients. This review investigated the prevalence of CAM use among patients with cancer in Scandinavia and secondly studied the educational levels of CAM users compared to non-users.

Materials and methods: A systematic search of the PubMed library was carried out to locate articles published between January 2000 and October 2015 that investigated prevalence of CAM use among Scandinavian patients with cancer.

Results: Twenty-two articles were found, of which nine were included in the review. The prevalence of CAM use was 7.9% to 53%, with an average of 36.0% across all studies.

Conclusion: Use of CAM is widespread among patients with cancer. Knowledge about CAM should be disseminated to both patients and staff in order to optimise discussions about CAM in clinical practice.

Keywords: CAM; Complementary alternative medicine; Scandinavia; review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries / epidemiology