A recent study concerning patients with incurable brain tumours has revealed that they frequently turn to alternative natural therapies in hopes of alleviating their symptoms or improving their condition. The study was not undertaken to prove or disprove the success of alternative treatments, but to share insights on how doctors and other healthcare practitioners must view these kinds of treatments and for the patients trying them.
About the Study
Due to fears that cancer patients might use alternative treatments instead of conventional treatments available, many doctors are discouraging their patients from trying them. The study concerning 612 patients with incurable grade II to grade IV gliomas has revealed that due to the dissatisfaction of the patients with conventional treatment or care, they turn to natural therapies instead. It also suggests that doctors and health care practitioners should engage with their patients and encourage an open discussion on the available treatment options. According to an article from Science Daily magazine that covered the study, the following are some of the main reasons that patients are turning to natural therapies:
- To support conventional therapy
- To build up body resistance
- To do something for the treatment by myself
It reveals that 40% of the patients are using natural therapies in an effort to take proactive measures regarding their treatment. Out of these patients, 39% have used homeopathy, 31% are using vitamin supplements, and 29% have used varying psychological methods. Oliver Heese, MD, a neurosurgeon at Hamburg-Eppendorf University Medical Centre in Germany and author of the study, has expressed that the “use of these alternative treatments may be largely overlooked and underestimated.” He also felt that doctors should be aware of the desire of the patients in trying alternative therapies and by having an open minded dialogue with them, they could help them in a number of ways and to avoid therapies that are deemed to be expensive or dangerous or without value.
Interestingly, younger patients, women, and more educated people were most likely who are turning to alternative therapies and treatment and older patients, men, and less educated people were less likely to try them. The results have contradicted the stereotype of the patients turning to natural therapies as being uneducated and naive. The study, which was conducted by the German Glioma Network with support from German Cancer Aid, may lead to an increase in the awareness of the possible of natural therapies to conventional medicine.
Updated: 22 March 2019
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