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Complementary Medicine Not Uncommon in Pediatric Cancer

Pediatricians urged to be aware of possible usage and discuss it with patients and their parents

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is often used to treat pediatric patients with cancer, according to a review published online March 22 in Pediatrics.

Felicity L. Bishop, Ph.D., of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 28 studies with survey data collected from 1975 to 2005 on 3,526 children.

In 20 studies with 2,871 participants, the researchers found that the prevalence of any CAM use since cancer diagnosis ranged from 6 to 91 percent; however, they were unable to perform a meta-analysis because of the significant heterogeneity across studies. They also found that the most common CAM modality was herbal remedies, followed by diets/nutrition and faith-healing, and that there was scant evidence to support an association between CAM use and patients' socioeconomic status.

"The use of CAM in pediatric cancer encompasses many patients," the authors conclude. "Consequently, this issue must continue to be addressed openly by pediatric cancer clinicians with their patients. Additional high-quality research is needed to better understand what patients and their parents seek from CAM while conventional cancer treatments continue to develop and improve apace."

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