The new study on alternative cancer treatments
Researcher’s analysed data from nearly two million patients with cancer treated at accredited medical centres throughout the US. They only included patients with cancers of the breast, lung, colon, or prostate that had not spread to other areas of the body.
Compared with those who received only conventional cancer treatments (including surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and/or hormone therapy), those who chose a “complementary” cancer treatment (such as herbs or acupuncture) along with at least one conventional cancer treatment:
- Tended to be younger, female, have higher socioeconomic status and educational level, and live in Pacific or Intermountain West regions of the United States.
- Declined additional conventional treatments more often. For example, chemotherapy was refused by 34% of those choosing unproven remedies, but by only 3% of the conventional treatment-only group.
- Did not live as long. The five-year survival was 82% in the unproven treatment group, and 87% in the conventional treatment group.
- Had a higher rate of death that appeared to be due to delay or refusal of conventional treatment.
- While the difference in five-year survival was small, it was statistically significant. And if this were a comparison of two new treatments, a 5% difference would be considered important.
The bottom line
If you have cancer and are interested in herbs, acupuncture, or other alternative treatments, talk to your doctor. Think twice before declining conventional treatments. But if you do decline recommended treatment, make sure you understand the pros and cons of doing so, including the possibility of shorter survival.
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