A recent European survey reported that the overall prevalence of CAM used by cancer patients was 35.9%, ranging from 14.8% to 73.1% .
An increasing number of evidence-based studies support the use of CAM therapies as a complement to conventional cancer therapies.
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For instance, Chinese medicinal herbs have been shown to reduce treatment side-effects, improve quality of life and survival rates amongst adult cancer patients .
Oncologists should proactively ask patients about CAM to prevent potential adverse effects, as most patients do not share this information with them. This usage is more pronounced when patients have difficult to treat chronic medical ailments such as chronic pain, poor mental health and cancer for which conventional medicine may not provide effective and satisfactory remedies , patients with cancer are more receptive to CAM utilization.
The most frequently used biological therapies were mega/multivitamins (31%), snakehead () (18%); whereas prayers (31%) and holy water (13%) dominated the mind-body category.
Common reasons for CAM use were to improve physical well-being (60.1%), try out everything that would help (59.5%) and to enhance wound-healing (39.3%).
CAM are defined as medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products that are not currently considered an integral part of conventional medicine .
Many CAM users report use not so much as a result of being dissatisfied with conventional medicine, but largely because they found these healthcare alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations toward health and life .