Dietary supplement use and documentation in a breast cancer survivorship clinic

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2021 Nov 24;1-4. doi: 10.1007/s10549-021-06454-7. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Breast cancer survivors take vitamins and supplements to bolster their general health and to decrease the risk of cancer recurrence. Healthcare providers are frequently unaware of their patients non-prescription supplement use. The aim of this study was to study the type and the documentation of patients' dietary supplements and vitamins in the electronic medical record (EMR).

Methods: 50/51 female breast cancer survivors seen over a 7 week period consented to the study. Mean age was 70 and mean years since diagnosis was 13.9. Informed consent and documentation of supplement and vitamin use was obtained by the nurse practitioner the day before the visit. Study data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools hosted at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Results: Of the 50 study patients, 90% were taking one or more vitamins and/or supplements (mean = 2.4, range = 1-9). The most common were Vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C. Reasons for vitamin and supplement use included the recommendation by their physician or friend and prevention of bone loss or catching a cold. Five patients mentioned immunity or prevention of COVID-19. The patient reported list was compared with the medication list used by multiple providers in the electronic medical record (EMR). None of the 50 study patients had an accurate list of their vitamins and supplements in the EMR.

Conclusion: 90% of the breast cancer survivors in our study were taking dietary supplements for a variety of reasons. None had an accurate list in the EMR. We strongly recommend more attention to accurate and easily accessed vitamin and supplement recording by providers.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Dietary supplements; Electronic medical record (EMR); Survivorship.