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Evidence for symptom management in the child with cancer


The use of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) has been well documented among children with cancer. This report summarizes the research evidence on the role of CAM therapies for prevention and treatment of the most commonly reported cancer-related symptoms and late effects among children with cancer. Small clinical trials document evidence of effectiveness for select therapies, such as acupuncture or ginger for nausea and vomiting, TRAUMEEL S for mucositis, and hypnosis and imagery for pain and anxiety. Several relatively small clinical trials of varying quality have been conducted on these CAM therapies in children with cancer. Some herbs have demonstrated efficacy in adults, but few studies of herbs have been conducted in children. Larger randomized clinical trials are warranted for each of these promising therapies. Until the evidence is more conclusive, the providers' role is to assess and document the child's use of CAM, critically evaluate the evidence or lack of evidence, balance the potential risks with possible benefits, and assist the family in their choices and decisions regarding use of CAM for their child with cancer.

Division of Pediatric Oncology, Integrative Therapies Program for Children with Cancer, Columbia University, 161 Ft. Washington, New York, NY 10032, USA. ejd14@columbia.edu




Posted: 09/28/2006

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