Complementary and alternative medical therapies used by children with cancer treated at an italian pediatric oncology unit

Carlo Alfredo Clerici, Laura Veneroni, Barbara Giacon, Luigi Mariani, Franca Fossati-Bellani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research has identified a growing use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in the pediatric oncology setting and health care professionals should consider how they might interact with and/or be used in lieu of conventional treatment. The present study was designed to establish the prevalence of CAM usage at an Italian pediatric oncology department, and the reasons why patients used these unconventional therapies. Procedure. This was an observational study involving parents whose children were treated for tumors at the pediatric oncology unit of the Istituto Nazionale Tumori in Milano. Data were collected on their sociodemographic variables and their use of CAM by means of a self-administered questionnaire. Results. We distributed 145 questionnaires and 97 of them (67%) were returned. Judging from this survey, 12.4% of the children used at least one type of CAM and homoeopathy was the most often used. Benefits were reported by 83% of parents. The most common reasons for using CAM were to reduce the side-effects of conventional therapies. The oncologists taking care of the patients were notified of the child's use of CAM in only one case. Conclusion. CAM were used not as a substitute but in addition to conventional treatments. In almost all cases, oncologists were not informed that a child was using CAM, posing a risk of any interaction with pharmacological treatments being inadequately understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-604
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Keywords

  • Alternative therapies
  • Children
  • Complementary therapies
  • Oncology
  • Pediatric patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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