Complementary medicine for cancer can decrease survival
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New Haven, Conn.– People who received complementary therapy for curable cancers were more likely to refuse at least one component of their conventional cancer treatment, and were more likely to die as a result, according to researchers from Yale Cancer Center and the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research Center (COPPER) at Yale School of Medicine. The findings were reported today online in JAMA Oncology.

Use of complementary medicine — medical therapies that fall beyond the scope of scientific medicine — is growing in the United States and often used by patients with cancer. Although many patients believe that a combination of complementary medicine and conventional cancer treatment will provide the greatest chance at a cure, there is limited research evaluating the effectiveness of complementary medicines. It is also unknown whether patients who use complementary medicines use them to improve their response to conventional medical therapies, or use them in lieu of recommended conventional therapies.

“Past research into why patients use non-medical complementary treatments has shown the majority of cancer patients who use complementary medicines believe their use will result in improved survival,” said the study’s senior author, James Yu, M.D., associate professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale

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