A high proportion of women with ovarian cancer use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments during and after their conventional cancer treatment.
The aim of this article was to investigate the extent of the potential problem associated with concurrent use of CAM and conventional chemotherapy through review of available case reports and clinical trials in the literature describing CAM-related adverse events in ovarian cancer patients. A systematic search was conducted using the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to retrieve pertinent research articles or case reports describing adverse events in patients and clinical trials that examined the effects of herbs and supplements used concurrently with cancer chemotherapy.
The search identified only 1 relevant case report and 1 clinical trial that met inclusion criteria. These were the only studies that specifically investigated patients with ovarian cancer.
This extensive review found few data suggesting potential for adverse events related to concurrent use of CAM substances and conventional chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Clinical recommendations regarding drug-CAM interactions when CAMs are used to treat a variety of cancers are most frequently based on evidence from in vitro studies. Existing data are weak and conflicting; few human studies have been conducted. Caution is still warranted because of the high frequency of CAM use by cancer patients and the existing theoretical potential for adverse events or reactions with chemotherapy.
Bastyr University, Kenmore; and University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA