Research Papers:

Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in cancer patients: An Italian multicenter survey

Massimiliano Berretta _, Chiara Della Pepa, Paolo Tralongo, Alberto Fulvi, Ferdinando Martellotta, Arben Lleshi, Guglielmo Nasti, Rossella Fisichella, Carmela Romano, Chiara De Divitiis, Rosaria Taibi, Francesco Fiorica, Raffaele Di Francia, Anna Di Mari, Lino Del Pup, Anna Crispo, Paolo De Paoli, Adriano Santorelli, Vincenzo Quagliariello, Rosario Vincenzo Iaffaioli, Umberto Tirelli and Gaetano Facchini

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:24401-24414. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14224

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Massimiliano Berretta1, Chiara Della Pepa2, Paolo Tralongo3, Alberto Fulvi4, Ferdinando Martellotta1, Arben Lleshi1, Guglielmo Nasti5, Rossella Fisichella6, Carmela Romano5, Chiara De Divitiis5, Rosaria Taibi1, Francesco Fiorica7, Raffaele Di Francia8,9, Anna Di Mari3, Lino Del Pup10, Anna Crispo11, Paolo De Paoli12, Adriano Santorelli13, Vincenzo Quagliariello5, Rosario Vincenzo Iaffaioli5, Umberto Tirelli1, Gaetano Facchini2

1Department of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Aviano (PN), Italy

2Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Uro-Gynaecological Oncology, Istituto Nazionale Tumori IRCCS “Fondazione G. Pascale”, Naples, Italy

3Division of Medical Oncology, “Umberto I” Hospital, Syracuse, Italy

4Department of Medicine and Surgery of Integrated Treatment, Division of Thoracic Oncology, “San Camillo Forlanini” Hospital, Rome, Italy

5Department of Abdominal Oncology, Division of Medical Oncology B, National Cancer Institute, “G. Pascale” Foundation, Naples, Italy

6Department of Surgery, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

7Department of Radiation Oncology University Hospital Ferrara, Division of Radiotherapy, “Arcispedale Sant’Anna” Hospital, Ferrara, Italy

8Department of Hematology, Istituto Nazionale Tumori ‘Fondazione Giovanni Pascale’, IRCCS, Naples, Italy

9Gruppo Oncologico Ricercatori Italiani, GORI, Pordenone, Italy

10Division of Gynaecological Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Aviano (PN), Italy

11Unit of Epidemiology, Struttura Complessa di Statistica Medica, Biometria e Bioinformatica, Istituto Nazionale Tumori IRCCS “Fondazione G. Pascale”, Naples, Italy

12Scientific Directorate, National Cancer Institute, Aviano (PN), Italy

13Department of Plastic Surgery, Regenerative Medicine, Health Park Hospital, Naples, Italy

Correspondence to:

Massimiliano Berretta, email: mberretta@cro.it

Keywords: complementary medicine, alternative medicine, survey, cancer, treatment

Received: October 13, 2016     Accepted: November 20, 2016     Published: December 25, 2016


Introduction: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) include a wide range of products (herbs, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics) and medical practices, developed outside of the mainstream Western medicine. Patients with cancer are more likely to resort to CAM first or then in their disease history; the potential side effects as well as the costs of such practices are largely underestimated.

Patients and method: We conducted a descriptive survey in five Italian hospitals involving 468 patients with different malignancies. The survey consisted of a forty-two question questionnaire, patients were eligible if they were Italian-speaking and receiving an anticancer treatment at the time of the survey or had received an anticancer treatment no more than three years before participating in the survey.

Results: Of our patients, 48.9% said they use or have recently used CAM. The univariate analysis showed that female gender, high education, receiving treatment in a highly specialized institute and receiving chemotherapy are associated with CAM use; at the multivariate analysis high education (Odds Ratio, (OR): 1.96 95% Confidence Interval, CI, 1.27-3.05) and receiving treatment in a specialized cancer center (OR: 2.75 95% CI, 1.53-4.94) were confirmed as risk factors for CAM use.

Conclusion: Roughly half of our patients receiving treatment for cancer use CAM. It is necessary that health professional explore the use of CAM with their cancer patients, educate them about potentially beneficial therapies in light of the limited available evidence of effectiveness, and work towards an integrated model of health-care provision.

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