Complementary & Alternative Therapy Use in Clinical Trials

A recent review presented by Christy S. Harris, PharmD, BCOP, Associate Professor, Pharmacy Practice, MCPHS-Boston, at the 2019 HOPA Annual Conference, presented available data and resources to evaluate potential adverse interactions that complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) may pose to the health of cancer patients and to assess these therapies’ impact on a clinical trial drug.

Generally, CAM has had a negative impact on survival rates among cancer patients, increasing mortality risk in breast cancer (by six-fold), lung cancer (by two-fold), and colorectal cancer (by four and a half fold) patients. Also, patients who are most likely to use alternative medicine to treat their cancers tend to be patients with:

  • Breast or lung cancer
  • Higher income
  • Reside in the Intermountain West or Pacific United States
  • Have stage II or III Cancer
  • Possess low comorbidity scores

A recent survey of 4,038 adults, 1,001 of whom had a previous or current cancer diagnosis, showed that almost half (47%) of

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