, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1303-1311
Date: 17 Dec 2013

Biologically based therapies are commonly self-prescribed by Brazilian women for the treatment of advanced breast cancer or its symptoms

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Abstract

Purpose

Breast cancer (BC) might be associated with loss of function in affected patients, with a direct impact on their quality of life (QOL). Many women with metastatic BC seek relief of symptoms, including the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to cure cancer. The present study aimed to identify the pattern of CAM used by patients with metastatic BC and to assess the correlation between CAM use and scores on anxiety, depression, and QOL scales.

Methods

A total of 126 women with metastatic BC were interviewed using four instruments: (1) a questionnaire containing socioeconomic, clinical, and demographic data and CAM use; (2) European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ)-C30; (3) EORTC QLQ-BR23; and (4) the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.

Results

Fifty percent of the participants reported the use of at least one CAM modality. Biologically based practices were the most frequently used to treat BC and/or its symptoms, the most commonly discussed with the oncologists, and one of the CAM categories in which more patients reported a desire to learn more about. The overall use of CAM was not correlated with the scores on the anxiety, depression, and QOL scales. However, analysis of the association of the QOL scores with specific CAM modalities revealed some potential associations (especially for food supplements, art therapy, psychotherapy, and prayer).

Conclusions

Women with metastatic BC frequently make use of CAM to treat the cancer and/or its symptoms. Biologically based practices seem to be particularly important in Brazil. An association between specific CAM modalities and some QOL domains was suggested, but it needs further confirmation.