Alternative Medicine Can Boost Patient Survival

A retrospective review of evidence from studies that assessed the use of mind—body interventions, nutrition, physical activity, and combined complementary and alternative medicine approaches in cancer patients found not just improved disease support in cancer patients, but often times, improved survival as well.

A new review of evidence drawn from experimental and epidemiologic studies, as well as a few clinical trials, demonstrates that several of the integrative approaches and lifestyle changes might also influence cancer survivorship.

A large percent of cancer patients use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), typically with the goal of relieving pain and controlling the adverse effects of disease or treatment.

"At times, these modalities can actually have a survival effect that could be similar to conventional care," said first author Moshe Frenkel, MD, chair of the Israeli Society of Complementary Medicine and founder of the Integrative Oncology Clinic at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The review was published online March 7 in Current Oncology Reports.

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