African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines

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Use of complementary and alternative medicine by cancer patients at Zhejiang University Teaching Hospital, Zhuji Hospital, China

L Teng, K Jin, K He, C Bian, W Chen, K Fu, T Zhu, Z Jin


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is garnering increasing interest and acceptance among the general population throughout the world. The use of CAM by cancer patients is very common in China. The referenced English literature has no rural community-based study from China on this subject. This study was conducted to define the prevalence, pattern of use, and reasons for using CAM by cancer patients at Zhejiang University Teaching Hospital Zhuji Hospital (ZUTH-ZJH), China. Face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire were used to determine the use of CAM by cancer patients. All consenting cancer patients were interviewed as they presented at the Department of Surgical Oncology of ZUTH-ZJH, from September 2009 to February 2010. One hundred and twenty one patients were interviewed; 64 (52.9%) were males and 57 (47.1%) were females. One hundred and thirteen patients (93.4%) have used CAM at some time during their current cancer illness, fifty two (46.0%) are female and sixty one (54.0%) are male patients; 8 (6.6%) patients have not used any form of CAM. Chinese medicine (73.5.0%) was the most commonly reported CAM modality. Over 71.7% of those who used CAM were satisfied, only 28.3% were disappointed. Twenty eight users (24.8%) did not see any benefit from the CAM, but eighty one patients (71.7%) could describe some specific benefits. Only one patient will use orthodox medicine instead of CAM in the future, almost all patients will continue to use CAM in the future. CAM use is very common among
cancer patients in local area of China. Most users obtain the expected benefits, and adverse events are uncommon. It is imperative that oncologists should explore the use of CAM with their cancer patients and work towards an integrated model of health-care provision. This knowledge will enable oncologists to better counsel the patients.

Key words: complementary and alternative medicine, cancer, China

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