Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Pan Afr Med J, 2011;10:36
BACKGROUND: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. As cancer incidence rates and survival time increase, use of CAM will likely increase. However, little is known about the use of CAM in cancer patients, specifically in emerging countries.
METHODS: We conducted a study in the medical oncology department at the University Hospital of Fez on the use of complementary medicine among cancer patient. The aims of this study were to estimate and describe the reasons of use of complementary medicine (CM) in patients with a cancer treated in a Moroccan oncology department. A specially designed questionnaire was completed for patient during treatment or follow-up in the oncology department after formal consent was obtained. It was a descriptive study among 100 patients over a period of 6 months between September 2008 and February 2009.
RESULTS: A total of 100 patients participated in the study, 46 of them were identified as users of complementary medicine. The most substances used were plants 24%, pure honey 13% and water of Zem Zem (holy water from Mecca) 11%. Concerning techniques, religious practices 37%, special diets 22% and recourse to traditional healers 11% were most commonly used. No specific user profile was observed depending of different sociodemograhics and clinical parameters. The majority of the users of complementary medicine were not revealing their habits to their oncologist because the question was not raised in consultation.
CONCLUSION: It seems that medical doctors should ask patients about their use of complementary medicine when they obtain medical history and they need to know more about complementary medicine to offer better consultation. Complementary medicine must benefit, as well as conventional medicine, from scientific studies to evaluate potential benefits, toxicity and interactions with the conventional treatment to enable the oncologist better inform his patients.