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Research Letter
April 11, 2019

Prevalence and Nondisclosure of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Patients With Cancer and Cancer Survivors in the United States

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas
  • 2Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 3Harold Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 4Department of Radiation Oncology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 5Dana-Farber Cancer Institute McGraw/Patterson Center for Population Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(5):735-737. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.0349

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), defined as therapies used in addition to or instead of conventional therapies, respectively, are frequently used in the United States by patients with cancer and cancer survivors; however, there is concern that these individuals may not disclose CAM use to their physicians.1 A recently published report from the National Cancer Database found that a small subset of patients who reported CAM use (n = 258; 0.01% of the study population) had worse survival than patients who did not use CAM; this finding appeared to be mediated by refusal of conventional cancer therapy.2 Given the potentially serious, adverse, and wide-reaching implications of CAM use (particularly use of alternative medicines) in patients with cancer, an accurate assessment of the prevalence of CAM use is needed. We used data from a comprehensive nationwide survey to conduct a cross-sectional study estimating the proportion of patients with cancer and cancer survivors using CAM and the associated rates of nondisclosure.