- Patients receiving complementary medicine (CM) are less likely to accept additional components of conventional cancer therapy (CCT), placing them at 2-fold greater risk for death from curable disease.
Why this matters
- CM is intended to be used in addition to, not in place of, CCT to improve QoL.
- According to the authors, two-thirds of patients using CM believe that it will prolong their life, and one-third expect it to cure their disease.
- Retrospective study of 258 CM users matched with 1032 nonusers from the National Cancer Database receiving ≥1 CCT for nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer during 2004-2013.
- Funding: None disclosed.
- Time to CCT was similar in CM users/nonusers (P=.41).
- CM users had higher refusal rates for surgery (7.0% vs 0.1%), chemotherapy (34.1% vs 3.2%), radiotherapy (53.0% vs 2.3%), and hormone therapy (33.7% vs 2.8%; P<.001 for all>
- CM was associated with poorer 5-year OS (82.2% vs 86.6%; P=.001) and doubled risk for death in multivariate analysis (HR=2.08; 95% CI, 1.50-2.90).
- CM was no longer linked to increased mortality after adjusting for treatment refusal/delay, supporting its effect via treatment refusal.
- Retrospective design.
- Potential CM underreporting, absence of data on type/use.