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Does an Alternative Treatment for Cancer Increase Risk of Death?

Researchers identify factors associated with choosing alternative treatment for cancer and compare survival outcomes with conventional cancer treatment.

As recently discussed in the British Medical Journal, researchers have attempted to address this knowledge gap, using data from a national database with the goal of identifying factors associated with alternative treatment selection and comparing the survival outcomes to conventional cancer treatment.

The American study was recently published by JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Conducted at the Yale School of Medicine, researchers identified patients from the US National Cancer Database from 2004 to 2013 with breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer—the four most prevalent types—who chose to be solely treated with alternative medicine therapies.

The researchers remind us, however, to note that complementary and integrative medicine is different from alternative medicine, as defined by their study. While complementary and integrative medicine includes a wide range of treatments that complement conventional medicine, alternative medicine usually consists of unproven therapies and techniques which are used in place of conventional treatment.

In all, the study found that patients who opted for alternative treatment for cancer instead of conventional treatment were at a greater risk of death. The researchers stress that improved communication needs to occur between patients and their medical providers and that further research must be done to assess the safety and effectiveness of certain alternative medicine treatments. This will ensure better outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients.

Read the full article at Medical News Bulletin