Alternative medicine only treatment linked to lower cancer survival

Alternative medicine is becoming an increasing trend among patients and families as a way to treat diseases such as cancer.
By Amy Wallace  |  Aug. 10, 2017 at 3:29 PM
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Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Yale University researchers warn in a new study alternative therapies as the treatment for curable cancers are at a significantly higher risk of death.

The study, published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that patients who choose alternative therapy solely to treat cancer are at a much higher risk of death than patients treated with conventional therapies.

"We became interested in this topic after seeing too many patients present in our clinics with advanced cancers that were treated with ineffective and unproven alternative therapies alone," Dr. James B. Yu, associate professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale Cancer Center, said in a press release.

The team at Yale studied the outcomes of 840 patients diagnosed with breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer from 2004 to 2013, 280 of whom received alternative medicine instead of chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. The remaining 560 patients received conventional treatment for their cancers.

When comparing outcomes, the researchers found a higher risk of death among patients treated with alternative medicine, findings which persisted for patients with breast, lung and colorectal cancer.

"We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival," said Dr. Skyler Johnson, the lead author of the study. "It is our hope that this information can be used by patients and physicians when discussing the impact of cancer treatment decisions on survival."

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