A wide range of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) may be used by Hispanic patients, including several that may be unfamiliar to oncology clinicians.3 Asking Hispanic patients about their use of CAM products is vital; however, you should foster a comfortable relationship with patients so they can feel at ease with being honest about their use of CAM therapies.

Understanding the rationale, motivations, and history of Hispanics’ use of CAM will enhance the cultural competence of oncology clinicians and help address these patients’ medical needs.3 Patients should not feel as if they are being judged for using these products, as CAM use may tie into their religious beliefs or practices or may be part of a tradition handed down by an important figure in their family or community.

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No one ever wants to hear those fateful words. But if they must be said, we should, as professionals, do our best to facilitate the experience and make it as easy a transition as we possibly can. Cultural competence is a way to show sensitivity and create a positive, encouraging relationship with the patient for the journey that is to follow.


1. Palos GR. Hispanic/Latino individuals and families affected by cancer: outreach, screening, and assessment. In: Christ G, Messner C, Behar L, eds. Handbook of Oncology Social Work: Psychosocial Care for People with Cancer. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2015:302.

2. Brady MJ, Peterman AH, Fitchett G, Mo M, Cella D. A case for including spirituality in quality of life measurement in oncology. Psychooncology. 1999;8(5):417-428.