Majority of breast cancer patients use complementary therapies

2021 02 02 01 49 0605 Woman Meditation Sun 400

Seventy-three percent of breast cancer patients use complementary therapies after receiving a diagnosis, but only 43% of oncologists believe their patients are doing so, according to survey results released June 3 in conjunction with the virtual annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting.

The study consisted of a survey of 115 U.S. oncologists and 164 breast cancer patients conducted in late 2020 by research firm IQVIA. It found that two-thirds of both oncologists and patients believe that using "complementary and lifestyle therapies" boosts patients' quality of life -- with tai chi and acupuncture having the strongest association with positive impact.

The study indicated that 66% of oncologists and 65% of patients believe their quality of life was improved by complementary and lifestyle therapies. What's more, 60% of patients also reported believing that these treatments lead to better health outcomes.

Among the 12 complementary therapies that were surveyed, patient use of tai chi/chi gong or acupuncture had the greatest impact on positive quality of life, the researchers reported. Other therapies that were surveyed included nutrition consults, support groups, psycho-oncology support, exercise programs, and meditation; physicians rated meditation low on the list, while patients reported it as being important.

Despite similar beliefs regarding the usefulness of alternative therapies, oncologists reported discussing them with only about half of their patients, the survey found.

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