May 10, 2019 – Alternative Treatments and Cancer Care


Anchor lead: Many people with cancer don’t tell their cancer doctor they are also using complementary and alternative therapies, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Herbs, supplements, meditation…a range of what falls under the rubric ‘complementary and alternative therapies’ is used by many people with cancer, yet about one-third don’t tell their cancer doctor they are doing so, a recent study found. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, describes the results.

Nelson: Twenty nine percent of them did not disclose that they were using complementary and alternative medicine to their treating cancer physician. The most common reason 57% of them gave was that the physician didn’t ask. The second most common reason which was 48% was  they didn’t think the physician needed to know. They were more likely to report the use of herbal supplements than they were to report the use of mindfulness and spirituality reports and massage therapy.  :30

Nelson says there can be interactions between such therapies and more mainstream treatments, so it’s important to advise your physician of your choices, and it’s important for physicians to ask. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.