The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widespread among cancer patients in India.
The present study elucidated usage patterns of CAM and the factors responsible for its adoption among the patients with cancer, and the therapeutic impact of CAM.
This was a questionnaire-based study, conducted among patients with cancer in a tertiary care hospital in a sub-Himalayan city. Data were analyzed using statistical methods.
A total of 2614 patients with cancer were included. Almost half of the patients (n = 1208, 46.2%) reported to have been treated with CAM. Breast cancer (n = 274, 23.0%) was most prevalent with majority at advanced stages. Ayurveda (n = 428, 35.9%) Yoga/Naturopathy (n = 381, 32.0%) Homeopathy (n = 143, 12.0%) and Unani (n = 71, 5.9%) were used commonly. Among CAM users, 85.0% (n = 1012) of patients used CAM as the sole method of treatment, while 58.9% (n = 702) patients reported initial symptomatic benefit.
Using CAM benefitted a significant number of patients with cancer. However, there is an urgent need to integrate CAM with modern system of medicine.

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