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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4382687, 8 pages
Research Article

The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Supplements of Potential Concern during Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

1Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA 98028, USA
2Molecular Diagnostics Program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
3School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Received 21 February 2016; Accepted 7 June 2016

Academic Editor: Oliver Micke

Copyright © 2016 Erin Sweet et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. While many Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are unlikely to interact negatively with conventional oncology treatment, some ingestible CAM substances have biological activities that may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy or radiation. This study surveyed women with breast cancer in order to document the extent to which women with breast cancer use these CAM substances of concern concurrently with conventional treatments. Methods. A total of 398 women completed a survey describing their use of CAM at various time points in their cancer treatment. This report focuses on a subsample of 250 women receiving chemotherapy or radiation who reported using specific one or more of several chemotherapies. Results. Of those participating, 104 (43.7%) of those receiving chemotherapy () and 45 (32.3%) of those receiving radiation (139; 58.4% of all patients) reported using one or more CAM substances that could be cause for concern when taken concurrently. Conclusion. Research is needed to understand the real risks associated with CAM and conventional polypharmacy. If risks associated with CAM conventional polypharmacy use prove to be substantial then improved systems to assure all women get advice regarding herb and supplement use during breast cancer treatment appear to be needed.