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01.03.2012 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2012

Supportive Care in Cancer 3/2012

Complementary and alternative medicine use and assessment of quality of life in Korean breast cancer patients: a descriptive study

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 3/2012
Eunyoung Kang, Eun Joo Yang, Sun-Mi Kim, Il Yong Chung, Sang Ah Han, Do-Hoon Ku, Soek-Jin Nam, Jung-Hyun Yang, Sung-Won Kim



The worldwide use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among cancer patients has increased, with breast cancer patients being more likely to use CAM compared with any other cancer patients. However, few surveys have systematically described CAM use among Korean breast cancer patients. This study investigated the use of CAM among patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer, along with the relevant demographic and clinical factors related to CAM use. We also compared the difference in quality of life between CAM users and nonusers.


A total of 661 patients were invited to participate in this study during routine clinic visits, with 425 patients ultimately participating. Three hundred ninety-nine questionnaires were completed and used in the final analysis. Quality of life was evaluated based on the Korean versions of the EORTC QLQ-C30 and EORTC QLQ-BR23.


Previous or current CAM usage was reported by 229 patients (57.4%). Independent factors related to CAM use were marital status, cancer stage, and coexisting illness. The common types of CAM use included exercise therapy (43.2%) and ingestion of vitamins and minerals (41.9%). The reasons for CAM use were to boost the immune system (53.2%), promote health (46.8%) and prevent recurrence (37.7%). Large proportions (70.4%) of CAM users did not discuss their CAM use with their physicians. Only a small number of CAM users (2.5%) answered that they were unsatisfied with their CAM use, with most CAM users reporting that they would continue their CAM use. Quality of life was not significantly different between CAM users and nonusers.


A significant number of patients with breast cancer have used CAM, and health care providers should be aware of the variety of CAM methods and their patients’ CAM uses for the proper management of breast cancer.

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