Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore prospectively the perspectives of patients with breast and gynecological cancers regarding integration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in conventional oncology settings.
Methods: We developed a 27-item questionnaire that was administered to convenient sample of patients with breast cancer and another with gynecological cancer who were attending a community-based oncology service in northern Israel.
Results: Of the 275 respondents, 109 (39.6%) had gynecological cancers and 166 (60.4%) had breast cancer. Current and/or previous year CAM use for oncology treatment was significantly higher among the patients with gynecological cancer (73/166 [44%] vs 67/106 [63%], P = 0.03). A logistic regression model indicated that CAM use was associated with gynecological cancer (EXP [B], 2.51; 95% confidence interval for EXP [B], 1.29–4.88; P = 0.007], younger age, Jewish religion, and lesser degree of religiosity. The patients highly expected their gynecologist-oncologist and family doctor to refer them to CAM counseling. Moreover, they expected their gynecologist-oncologist to participate in building a CAM treatment plan if CAM were to be integrated into the oncology service. The patients expected the CAM consultant to inform them of the safety and efficacy of CAM treatments, emphasizing expectations to strengthen their general ability to cope with the disease, reduce chemotherapy side effects, and provide emotional and spiritual support.
Conclusion: Although patients with gynecological malignancies use CAM significantly more than patients with breast cancer, both groups share similar conceptions regarding the active role of their gynecologist oncologists in the process of CAM integration within supportive care and expect CAM consultation to focus on improving their well-being.