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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

11 per cent of women with breast cancer never use chemo—but rely on alternatives
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

11 per cent of women with breast cancer never use chemo—but rely on alternatives image

More and more women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer are rejecting chemotherapy in favour of alternative treatments. Up to 87 per cent of women are turning instead to vitamins and supplements and mind-body therapies for the first year after diagnosis, a new study has found.

After a year, the vast majority of the women had started chemotherapy when it had been considered essential—although 11 per cent never did. The take-up was much less—at just 36 per cent—in women whose chemotherapy treatment was discretionary.

Overall, women who turn to alternative therapies are less likely ever to use chemotherapy for their breast cancer, say researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

They reviewed the way that 685 women—all under the age of 70 and with non-metastatic (not developing outside the breast) breast cancer—responded to their diagnosis.

The researchers say the use of alternative treatments for cancer has grown over the last 20 years. The most popular therapies are dietary supplements and vitamins and mind-body practices, and the vast majority of women use two therapies at the same time.


References

(Source: JAMA Oncology, 2016; doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0685)

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