Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1857–1866 | Cite as

Complementary and alternative medicine use among patients with thoracic malignancies

  • Rashmi S. Bismark
  • Hongbin Chen
  • Grace K. Dy
  • Elizabeth A. Gage-Bouchard
  • Martin C. Mahoney
Original Article



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/*therapy Complementary therapies/*utilization Cross-sectional studies 


Conflict of interest

This research was funded in part by a Physician Training Award in Preventive Medicine from the American Cancer Society (Dr. Mahoney, PI) supporting specialized training in Cancer Prevention and Control for Dr. Bismark. The study was conducted while Dr. Bismark was completing a residency at the University at Buffalo. She does not have any other financial relationship with the American Cancer Society to disclose.

Additionally, Dr. Bismark maintains full control of all primary data. She will agree to allow the journal to have access to and review data if requested.


This research was funded in part by a Physician Training Award in Preventive Medicine from the American Cancer Society (Dr. Mahoney, PI) supporting specialized training in Cancer Prevention and Control for Dr. Bismark.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rashmi S. Bismark
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hongbin Chen
    • 1
  • Grace K. Dy
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Gage-Bouchard
    • 2
  • Martin C. Mahoney
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Roswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.SUNY University, School of Public Health and Health ProfessionsBuffaloUSA

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