Review: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative MedicineCancer Information, Cancer Websites — By nygal on November 22, 2009 at 5:44 am
What is complementary and alternative medicine?
Complementary and alternative medicine is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.
Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. Some health care providers practice both CAM and conventional medicine.
Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine.
Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.
Integrative medicine combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM for which there is some high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness. It is also called integrated medicine. The same scientific evaluation that is used to assess conventional cancer treatments should be used to assess CAM therapies.
Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
Is CAM widely used?
According to a comprehensive survey on Americans’ use of CAM, 36 percent of U.S. adults are using some form of CAM. When megavitamin therapy and prayer for health reasons are included in the definition of CAM, that percentage rises to 62 percent.
These results are based on the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, which was supported by NCCAM and the National Center for Health Statistics (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The survey found that rates of CAM use are especially high among patients with serious illnesses such as cancer.
Several smaller studies of CAM use by cancer patients have been conducted. A study of CAM use in patients with cancer in the July 2000 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that 69 percent of 453 cancer patients had used at least one CAM therapy as part of their cancer treatment. A study published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that 88 percent of 102 people with cancer who were enrolled in phase I clinical trials (research studies in people) at the Mayo Comprehensive Cancer Center had used at least one CAM therapy.
Of those, 93 percent had used supplements (such as vitamins or minerals), 53 percent had used nonsupplement forms of CAM (such as prayer/spiritual practices or chiropractic care), and almost 47 percent had used both.
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