Complementary and alternative medicine in radiation oncology
OBJECTIVE Many patients use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as primary treatment or symptom relief for a variety of illnesses. This study was designed to investigate the influence of surgical removal of a tumor-bearing urogenital organ on CAM use. METHODS From 2007 to 2011, 350 patients underwent major urological surgery for kidney, prostate, or bladder cancer at the Goethe-University Hospital, Frankfurt, Germany. Data from 172 patients (49%), who returned a questionnaire, were retrospectively evaluated using the hospital information system along with the questionnaire to objectify CAM use 2 years before and after surgery. RESULTS From the 172 patients returning questionnaires, 56 (33%) used CAM before and/or after surgery and 116 (67%) never used CAM. Of the 56 CAM users, 30 (54%) used CAM presurgery and 53 (95%) used CAM postsurgery, indicating a significant change of mind about CAM use. Patients of German nationality used CAM significantly more than patients of other nationalities. Higher educational status (high-school diploma or higher) was a significant factor in favor of CAM use. The most common type of CAM used before/after surgery was an alternative medical system (63/49%), a manipulative and body-based method (50/19%), and a biological-based therapy (37/32%). Information about CAM, either provided by medical professionals or by other sources, was the main reason determining whether patients used CAM or not. CONCLUSION The number of patients using CAM almost doubled after surgical removal of a cancer-bearing organ. Better awareness and understanding of CAM use by medical professionals could improve patient counseling.