Both general practitioners and registered nurses are more liberal than cancer specialists when it comes to understanding why cancer patients are interested in alternative treatments, a Danish survey finds.In a survey of 123 Danish general practitioners, 20% thought alternative medicine might have a positive effect on the course of the disease, while half figured it would positively influence quality of life.
Among the nurses interviewed for the report, 63% indicated that alternative medicine could be useful in the treatment of cancer patients and 20% actually use alternative medicine in their nursing.
Cancer specialists (oncologists) are generally more skeptical and tend to avoid discussing alternative therapies with cancer patients, although there is a widespread use of these therapies among cancer patients, author Anette Damkier of the Oncological Research Center, Odense University Hospital, told Reuters Health.
"It is my impression that oncologists generally understand cancer patients who are interested in taking an active part in their own treatment, and I think taking food supplements or natural remedies makes more sense to this group of doctors than healing and praying, because many of these preparations are rooted in biochemistry," Damkier said."As for them being more conservative than general practitioners and nurses, however, one must not forget that oncologists are used to working with powerful treatments that often have serious side effects.
Documentation is extremely important to this group of doctors, so it is difficult for them to deviate from conventional thinking," she added.Her report is the first in-depth analysis of how different groups in the medical establishment view alternative cancer therapies. Damkier said she sought to provide a more detailed view of the perception and use of alternative therapies among patients and medical staff.
"I think it is vital that doctors are critical in their evaluation of cancer therapies--conventional or alternative--but I can easily understand why there is so much conservatism. Medical school and postgraduate training are both firmly founded in natural science, which is why doctors find it difficult to take an interest in treatments that have a different origin. It would be nice if these strategies could be integrated in the medical training," Damkier said.
She also surveyed cancer patients, and found that 45% used some kind of alternative remedy, most often vitamins, fish oil and coenzyme Q10, and nearly 13% see an alternative therapist, typically for zone therapy or acupuncture.
Ann's NOTE: Patients are stuck in a Catch 22. There doctors want studies, there are no studies. Patients want results, they are willing to take leaps of faith. Dr. J.H. recently told me that patients "...should NOT be doing this stuff". Well, maybe, but they ARE doing it.
We all have to deal with that. Join The Annie Appleseed Project in calling for randomzied trials of chemotherapy taken with a panel of antioxidants (E,C,Selenium, Omega 3, CoQ10, A, OPC,EPA/DHA, etc.). This will yield information of value to patients, providers and pharmaceutical companies.
Complement Thera in Medicine, 9/03
Euro J Cancer Care, 5/05
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