Perceived Cancer Causes Use of CAM

ABSTRACT: Perceived Cancer Causes Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapy [07/19/2001; Cancer Practice]

Purpose: The objectives of this report are to describe beliefs about general and personal cancer causes among patients with cancer who use and do not use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), to compare these beliefs with current epidemiologic knowledge, and to explore associations between these beliefs and choice of CAMs.

Results: Genetics, environment, and diet were among the most common perceived general causes of cancer, whereas psychosocial factors were by far the most common perceived personal causes.

CAM users were more likely than nonusers to name environment, immune system, and stress as cancer causes. Compared with the epidemiologic literature, study participants were less likely to mention tobacco use and more likely to consider environmental exposures, psychosocial factors, immunologic mechanisms, and physical injury as causes of cancer.

Furthermore, the interviews suggest that causal thinking may be related to the type of CAM used.

Clinical implications: Given the discrepancy between popular cancer theories and current scientific knowledge, the challenge for the healthcare provider is to listen and try to understand the patient's beliefs about cancer etiology.

Understanding the patient's beliefs about their disease is important in providing the support and information they need to make effective decisions about their medical care.

Complementary Med & Genetic Testing Program

Cancer Epi Bio & Prevent, 4/03

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