Assess complementary medicine use in HSCT survivors


By Nicola Garrett

1 Nov 2016

Clinicians should ask patients who have had an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant about their use of complementary medicines, experts advise.

The call comes after Sydney haematologists found over half of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) survivors used at least one form of complementary and alternative therapy (CAM).

The survey of 432  patients who had undergone a transplant at one of the centres in NSW found that 14 percent used dietary modification, 30% took vitamins, 17% used spiritual or mind-body therapy.

Just over a quarter used  herbal supplements, manipulative or body-based therapies whereas 4 percent used Chinese medicine and 3% used reiki and homeopathy.

Writing in the paper published in Cancer Medicine the researchers said it was concerning that only half of the survey respondents reported taking calcium (47.8%) and vitamin D supplements (56.7%) given they had shown benefit in this ‘high-risk’ group.

The researchers said that given the number of patients using CAM it was important to be aware of their potential harms, such as interactions with conventional allogeneic therapies such as immunosupressants and antifungals.

It was equally important to know about the use of CAM given the potential benefits seen in other small studies.

“It is crucial that CAM usage is routinely assessed as part of HSCT long-term follow-up,” the research team concluded.

“While the decision to use a CAM always remains the right of the patient, it is essential that this decision to do so is informed,” they added.

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