More and more women are now successfully being treated for breast cancer, and wind up searching for ways to hedge their bets on staying strong and well after treatment is completed. A recent survey out of Western Oregon University asked 551 ex-breast cancer patients about their use of 15 different complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies after completion of allopathic therapy for breast cancer. These were women in the Portland OR area who were diagnosed an average of 3.5 years earlier.
Two thirds of the women had used at least one CAM therapy during the previous 12 months. The majority did this without a recommendation from their doctor. Relaxation/meditation, herbs, spirutal healing and megavitamins were used most often. The majority felt that using these therapies were at the very least, "moderately important" in remaining cancer-free.
Significant predictors of CAM use were younger age, higher education and private insurance.
Reasons for using these therapies included enhancing overall quality of life, feeling more in control, strengthening the immune system and reducing stress. CAM use did not reflect any negative attitudes toward conventional medical care, but rather an orientation toward self-care and health optimization.
Citation: Henderson JW & Donatelle RJ, Complementary and alternative medicine use by women after completion of allopathic treatment for breast cancer. Alternative Therapies, Jan/Feb 2004, v. 10, #1, pp. 52-57.