Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Management of Lymphomas: Prevalence, Rationale, and Contraindications

Christine D. Lukac, David Twa


In Canada, lymphomas are the fifth most prevalent cancer and the incidence of this heterogeneous group of malignancies is increasing. Though recent advances in allopathic medicine with molecularly precise therapies have improved patient survival, many lymphoma patients still succumb to their disease. Often patients also experience reduced quality of life as a result of their cancer and allopathic treatment–related side effects. In light of these outcomes, studies have reported that patients frequently use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help manage their disease. As most patients elect to engage in CAM concurrently with allopathic therapy, it is necessary to consider common CAM modalities that may have outright and/or synergistically harmful side effects that limit the efficacy of allopathic therapy in treating lymphomas. Despite limited scientific evidence supporting CAM efficacy, healthcare providers should still acknowledge the reasons for why patients might choose to use CAM. Here, we examine recent findings on prevalence, rationale, and contraindications for CAM usage by lymphoma patients. Taken together, we believe this analysis may facilitate informed discussion on the disadvantages and advantages of CAM, and when it might be used to appropriately manage lymphomas and allopathic treatment–related symptoms.

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Lukac CD, David Twa D. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Management of Lymphomas: Prevalence, Rationale, and Contraindications. UBCMJ. 2015: 7.1 (52-55).