Use Of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children With Cancer: Effect on Survival

Karali Y., Demirkaya M., Sevinir B. B.

PEDIATRIC HEMATOLOGY AND ONCOLOGY, vol.29, pp.335-344, 2012 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


The objective of the present study was to determine the type, frequency, the reason why complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments are used, the factors related with their use, and the effects of CAM usage on long-term survival. Families of a total of 120 children with cancer between 0-18 years of age, including 50 (41.7%) girls and 70 (58.3%) boys, participated in our study. The authors found that 88 patients (73.3%) used at least one CAM method, the most common (95.5%) of which was biologically based therapies. Most frequently used biologically based therapies were dietary supplements and herbal products. The most commonly used dietary supplement or herbal product was honey (43.2%) or stinging nettle (43.2%), respectively. We found that patients used such CAM methods as complementary to, but not instead of, conventional therapy. Sixty-nine out of 88 patient families (78.4%) shared the CAM method they used with their physicians. No statistically significant relation was found between socioeconomic, sociodemographic, or other factors or items and CAM use. The mean follow-up period of the CAM users and nonusers groups was 79.4 +/- 36.7 (21.3-217.9) and 90.9 +/- 50.3 (27.4-193.7) months, respectively. Five-year survival rates for CAM users and nonusers were found as 81.5% and 86.5%, respectively (P > .05). In conclusion, families of children with cancer use complementary and alternative treatment frequently. They do not attempt to replace conventional treatment with CAM. Higher rates of CAM use was found in families with higher educational level. CAM usage did not affect the long-term survival.