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Three-Fourths of Breast Cancer Survivors Report CAM Use

Three-Fourths of Breast Cancer Survivors Report CAM Use

BOSTON—Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is typically higher among cancer patients than the general population. Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute further refined this observation by studying the use of CAM among women with varying degrees of breast cancer risk. Reporting at the Third International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology (abstract F075), they found that breast cancer survivors with a family history of cancer used significantly more CAM than the other groups.

The 417 women in the study completed a self-administered questionnaire that included questions about CAM use for cancer prevention from four categories: Mind/body, biological, manipulative/body based, and energy medicine (see Table). The four risk groups were:

  • 100 women who were breast cancer survivors with a family history of breast cancer (FH)
  • 102 high-risk women without cancer (HR)
  • 91 breast cancer survivors with no family history (BCS)
  • 124 women from the general population undergoing routine mammography screening (PR or population risk)

"We found that 67% of the overall cohort used some form of CAM for cancer prevention," said Lisa DiGianni, PhD, a senior research scientist at Dana-Farber. The most commonly used individual CAMs were exercise (53%), vitamins (43%), spirituality (22%), yoga (14%), and imagery (14%). Cancer patients with a family history used significantly more CAM in all categories, compared with other risk groups (FH 80%, BCS 74%, HR 59%, PR 59%).

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