Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is common in the cancer population with between 40-60% of patients reporting use, although the true extent of use is thought to be under-reported.
The use of ingested CAM poses the highest potential risk in cancer patients and CAM use should be thoroughly investigated as part of a comprehensive medical and medication history with all patients. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database provides useful scientific and clinical information on complementary, alternative and integrative therapies including information on potential interactions.
COSA has developed guiding principles on the use of CAMs by cancer patients.
Any use of CAM should be assessed for safety against the patient’s cancer treatment protocol. All CAM should be considered in terms of any potential to interact with the patient’s therapy, thereby causing either an increased risk of toxicity or reduced efficacy of the planned therapy. All CAM use should be recorded in the patient’s health care record.
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- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. [homepage on the internet] Therapeutic Research Faculty; [cited 2017 Mar]. Available from: http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com.
- Clinical Oncology Society of Australia. Position statement. The use of complementary and alternative medicine by cancer patients.; 2013 [cited 2016 Sep] Available from: https://www.cosa.org.au/media/1133/cosa_cam-position-statement_final_new-logo.pdf.