Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1857–1866

Complementary and alternative medicine use among patients with thoracic malignancies


    • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
    • SUNY University, School of Public Health and Health Professions
  • Hongbin Chen
    • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Grace K. Dy
    • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Elizabeth A. Gage-Bouchard
    • SUNY University, School of Public Health and Health Professions
  • Martin C. Mahoney
    • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
    • SUNY University, School of Public Health and Health Professions
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00520-014-2144-0

Cite this article as:
Bismark, R.S., Chen, H., Dy, G.K. et al. Support Care Cancer (2014) 22: 1857. doi:10.1007/s00520-014-2144-0



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use has been increasing among cancer patients. This study characterizes the use of CAM among patients with thoracic malignancies.


This cross sectional study was conducted at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center among adult patients diagnosed with thoracic malignancies. The primary outcome was a self-reported use of CAM, defined as the use of any type of CAM beyond routine vitamin/mineral supplementation alone. A logistic regression model was developed to explore predictors of CAM use.


A total of 108 patients completed a standardized survey (59 % response rate). Overall, 42 % of respondents reported the use of at least one type of CAM. Users and non-users of CAM did not differ based upon demographics, diagnosis, staging, smoking status, quality of life, or perceived understanding of cancer diagnosis. In the multivariate analysis, patients who reported feeling fearful about their future were four times more likely to be CAM users when compared to those who did not specify this emotion (odds ratio = 4.18; 95 % CI = 1.23–14.12; p = 0.02). Commonly cited reasons for CAM use were to support one’s self, boost immunity, and for improvements in emotional and/or spiritual well-being.


Prevalence of CAM use among cancer patients in this study was similar to the general US population. Feeling fearful about the future was associated with CAM use. Results suggest that patients may be turning to CAM as a therapeutic adjunct to actively cope with emotional distress surrounding the cancer experience.


Lung neoplasms/complications/*therapyComplementary therapies/*utilizationCross-sectional studies

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014