, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 1277-1284
Date: 01 Mar 2007

Association of complementary methods with quality of life and life satisfaction in patients with gynecologic and breast malignancies

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Goals of work

In gynecological oncology, there is growing interest in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) methods. The lack of data regarding side effects, the lack of any survival advantages, and the costs of these methods appear to have no influence on patients’ decisions on whether to use CAM. Our interest was to evaluate the association between CAM use and the patients’ quality of life/life satisfaction (QoL/LS).

Materials and methods

One thousand thirty women with breast cancer of gynecologic malignancies were asked to participate in this study, which included a questionnaire and a personal interview on CAM. User status was compared with the patient’s own description of her QoL/LS and with the cancer type.

Main results

CAM was used by 48.7% of all women (n = 502). Breast cancer patients stated that they used CAM in 50.1% and women with gynecological cancer in 44.0%. The use of mistletoe was widespread (77.3%) and was more often seen in breast cancer patients than in gynecological cancer patients (74.4% vs 67.0%). CAM users less frequently stated an overall deterioration of their health status (35.1%) compared to nonusers (50.1%). CAM use resulted in a stated improvement in family conditions (6%) in comparison with the nonusers (2%).


With regard to patients’ perception of health status, CAM use is associated with a better coping with their disease. Most other categories of LS are not affected by CAM use. Patient-oriented information comparing standard therapies with CAM methods should be made widely available, and patients’ expectations of CAM use should be discussed between the physician and the patient.