Alternative medicine commonly used on child cancer patients

Thursday 8th April, 2010

Complementary therapy and alternative medicine is used by many child cancer patients, according to a review by a UK research team.

A team of researchers at the University of Southampton carried out a systematic review of 28 studies totalling 3,526 children from 14 countries over 30 years (1975-2005). Twenty-three of the studies were carried out between 2000 and 2005, ten of which were performed in the US.

The research team found that 2-48 per cent of children surveyed used herbal remedies while 3-47 per cent used dietary and nutritional interventions. Other modalities included massage, mind-body therapies and faith healing.

Reasons for using complementary and alternative medicine included relief of symptoms from the cancer itself or standard treatment (e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy) and helping to fight or cure the child’s cancer.

Use of complementary therapies were not found to have any association to the child’s gender, age, ethnicity or family income.

Authors of the research paper which was first published online in Paediatrics cautioned that “paediatric oncologists need to be aware that their patients (and their patients’ parents) will be seeking and integrating other therapeutic approaches while undergoing conventional treatments” because some commonly used herbs and supplements can negatively interact with standard cancer treatments.



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