Treating Cancer With Complementary Medicine Raises Death Risk

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People who get complementary therapy for curable cancers are more likely to refuse at least one element of conventional cancer treatment and are more likely to die as a result, say researchers at the Yale Cancer Center’s Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research Center at Yale School of Medicine. Their study was published in JAMA Oncology.

The use of complementary medicine – treatments and therapies that do not fall within the scope of scientific medicine – is growing among Americans with cancer, many of whom believe a combination of conventional and complementary treatments increases survival rates. For their study, the Yale researchers looked at a group of 1,290 patients with breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer from the National Cancer Database and compared 258 of the patients who used complementary medicine to 1,032 who did not.

Over a 10-year period, people who used complementary medicine in addition to conventional cancer treatments were more likely to refuse conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy, and they had a greater risk of dying from cancer than those who did not use complementary therapies. According to the researchers, it’s possible that some cancer patients misunderstand the role complementary medicine could play in conventional cancer treatment.

Sourced from: JAMA Oncology