A considerable number of patients with brain tumors use alternative therapies, such as homeopathy, alongside their conventional treatments, researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany reveal in the medical journal Neurology. The researchers discovered that approximately 40% of patients with incurable grade II to IV gliomas were found to use alternative therapies.
The most common therapies included psychological therapy, homeopathy and vitamin supplements, the authors wrote.
Study author, neurosurgeon Oliver Heese, MD, said:
- “The use of these alternative treatments may be largely overlooked and underestimated. Doctors need to be aware of patients’ desire to seek alternative treatments and encourage an open discussion of options. Their guidance may be much appreciated, especially when some treatments are dubious, expensive or potentially harmful.”
Heese and team carried out a study involving 621 individuals with incurable grade II to IV gliomas. They were given a questionnaire in which they were asked to reveal details regarding their use of alternative therapies. An alternative therapy, in this study, meant any “methods or compounds not used in routine clinical practice and not scientifically evaluated.”
Older individuals, as well as males and patients with less education were less likely to use alternative treatments, compared to younger individuals, females and those with more education.
- “The majority of people are turning to alternative treatments not because they are dissatisfied with their conventional care, but because they wish to add something beneficial to their care.”
The most common reason for opting for alternative therapies were:
- As a complement for their conventional therapy
- To build up body resistance
- To do something for the treatment by themselves
Being afraid of conventional methods, or saying it was because the doctor did not have enough time were the least commonly chosen responses.
The alternative therapies included:
- 39% – homeopathy
- 31% – vitamin supplements
- 29% – a wide range of psychological methods
The study was supported by the German Cancer Aid and carried out by the German Glioma Network.
“Complementary therapy use in patients with glioma – An observational study”
O. Heese, MD, M. Schmidt, MD, S. Nickel, PhD, H. Berger, MD, R. Goldbrunner, MD, J.C. Tonn, MD, O. Bhär, MD, J.P. Steinbach, MD, 9. M. Simon, MD, J. Schramm, MD, D. Krex, MD, G. Schackert, MD, T. Reithmeier, MD, G. Nikkhah, MD, M. Löffler, MD, M. Weller, MD, M. Westphal, MD
Neurology December 13, 2010 vol. 75 no. 24 2229-2235
Written by Christian Nordqvist