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Use and perception of complementary and alternative medicine among cancer patients: the CAMEO-PRO study

Complementary and alternative medicine in oncology

  • Original Article – Clinical Oncology
  • Published:
Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology Aims and scope Submit manuscript



It is estimated that about half of cancer patients use at least one form of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in their life but there is a strong reticence of patients in talking about CAM with their oncologist. Primary aim of this study was to inform patients about CAM, focusing on their supposed benefits, toxicities and interactions with conventional therapeutic agents. The study also explored patients’ perception about CAM and ascertained the level of CAM use among cancer patients of an Italian academic hospital.


From April 2016 to April 2017, the observational pilot trial “CAMEO-PRO” prospectively enrolled 239 cancer patients that were invited to attend a tutorial about CAM at the Department of oncology, University Hospital of Udine, Italy. Before and after the informative session, patients were asked to fill a questionnaire reporting their knowledge and opinion about CAM.


Overall, 163 (70%) women and 70 (30%) men were enrolled. Median age was 61 years. At study entry, 168 (72%) patients declared they had never been interested in this topic previously; 24 patients (11%) revealed the use of a type of alternative therapy and 58 (28%) revealed the use of complementary therapy. In total, 139 (55.2%) patients attended the informative session. Bowker’s test of symmetry demonstrated statistically significant opinion’s change after the session on 9 out of 14 explored items.


Informative sessions seem to have a relevant impact on patients’ perceptions and opinions about CAM.

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The authors thank Anna Vallerugo, MA, for her writing assistance.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Claudia Bozza.

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Appendix 1: Q1 questionnaire

Definition of CAM: Non-conventional medicine alternative or complementary to “official medicine”

The purpose of these questionnaires is to assess your knowledge of alternative and complementary therapies and what is your opinion on these treatments.

Thank you for letting us know which alternative and complementary therapies you have already heard of and the reasons why you chose to undergo/not to undergo CAM treatments.

All information provided will be treated confidentially.

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Appendix 2: Q2 questionnaire

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Bozza, C., Gerratana, L., Basile, D. et al. Use and perception of complementary and alternative medicine among cancer patients: the CAMEO-PRO study. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 144, 2029–2047 (2018).

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