Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is frequently used by lymphoma survivors, and healthcare providers should be aware of and take into consideration CAM use when providing treatment and follow-up care, according to a study published in European Journal of Oncology Nursing.

Many patients believe that CAM provides certain benefits, including relieves symptoms, augments cancer therapy, boosts immunity, and gives patients a sense of control; however, evidence for such claims require further study. Despite the inconclusive nature of these findings, the improvements in survival outcomes among patients with cancer have led to an increased interest in supportive care and improvements in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) with CAM.

For this South Korean study, researchers analyzed the self-reported questionnaires of 869 lymphoma survivors to evaluate CAM (eg, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage, special diets, reiki) usage, discussion of CAM use with healthcare providers, satisfaction with CAM use, and side effect assessment.

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Analysis showed that 42.2% of lymphoma survivors had used CAM; the proportions of women, patients who had a religion, and time since diagnosis were significantly higher among CAM users compared with nonusers (P <.001). Most CAM users (82.1%) reported being satisfied with its use.

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The most commonly used form of CAM among patients was a special diet (eg, ginseng, chitosan, mixed cereals).

Of CAM users, 77.5% did not alert their healthcare provider of CAM use, and only 9.2% of patients reported experiencing any adverse events.

Notably, the study showed that patients who used CAM reported significantly lower HRQOL scores vs nonusers.

The authors concluded that “the study could provide fundamental data for future research, and the present findings may have implications for health professionals who care for lymphoma survivors who consider the use of CAM. Healthcare professionals should be aware of the range of CAM use among patients and reflect their responses in their treatment and/or follow-up care.”


Kim K, Kim SH, Ok ON, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine by lymphoma survivors in South Korea. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2018;33:91-96.