Complementary and Integrative Medicine to Reduce Adverse Effects of Anticancer Therapy

J Altern Complement Med. Sep/Oct 2018;24(9-10):933-941. doi: 10.1089/acm.2018.0143.

Abstract

Background: To address the side effects of anticancer treatments, the Clinic for Complementary Medicine and Diet in Oncology was opened, in collaboration with the oncology department, at the Hospital of Lucca (Italy) in 2013.

Aim: To present the results of complementary medicine treatment targeted toward reducing the adverse effects of anticancer therapy and cancer symptoms, and improving patient quality of life. Dietary advice was aimed at the reduction of foods that promote inflammation in favor of those with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Methods: This is a retrospective observational study on 357 patients consecutively visited from September 2013 to December 2017. The intensity of symptoms was evaluated according to a grading system from G0 (absent) to G1 (slight), G2 (moderate), and G3 (strong). The severity of radiodermatitis was evaluated with the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) scale. Almost all the patients (91.6%) were receiving or had just finished some form of conventional anticancer therapy.

Results: The main types of cancer were breast (57.1%), colon (7.3%), lung (5.0%), ovary (3.9%), stomach (2.5%), prostate (2.2%), and uterus (2.5%). Comparison of clinical conditions before and after treatment showed a significant amelioration of nausea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, fatigue, mucositis, hot flashes, joint pain, dysgeusia, neuropathy, and all symptoms. Moreover, in a subgroup of 17 patients in radiotherapy undergoing integrative treatment, the level of toxicities and the severity of radiodermatitis were much lower than in the 13 patients without integrative treatment. Twenty-one cancer patients (6.2%) either refused (18) or discontinued (3) conventional anticancer treatment against the recommendation of their oncologist; after the integrative oncology (IO) visit, 7 (41.2%) out of 17 patients with follow-up decided to accept standard oncologic treatments.

Conclusions: An IO clinic may contribute to reducing the adverse effects of anticancer therapy and improving the quality of life of cancer patients.

Keywords: anticancer diet; anticancer therapy; cancer patients; complementary and integrative medicine; integrative oncology.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine*
  • Integrative Oncology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies

Substances

  • Antineoplastic Agents