Alternative Medicine Use Rising in Senior Oncology Patients

Posted on August 31 2015

Alternative medicine is marketed as all natural and less harmful than other forms of medicine. In recent years, alternative medicines like eastern medicine and acupuncture have been used to treat a wide variety of ailments and illnesses. In fact, many alternative medicines are being used in senior oncology patients.

 In a recent survey, researchers found that 26% of senior oncology patients have added some sort of alternative medicine therapy to their treatment plans. Many doctors have concerns that some patients fail to disclose their alternative medicines due to a fear of backlash from their medical providers. Others say that some patients simply do not disclose their alternative medicines because they do not understand that these therapies have the potential to interfere with their oncology treatments.

 There are a number of alternative treatments that can interfere with cancer treatments including herbal treatments like St. John’s Wort, which has the potential to make oncology treatments less effective. Other therapies can interfere with surgical procedures by affecting the way a patient reacts to anesthesia. Since the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate many of these alternative practices, further research into their interactions and possible side effects need to be completed. Dosage and potency can vary widely between patients, while in senior patients these medicines can simply add another drug to an already long list of medications.

 Some common alternative medicines that senior oncology patients take are multi-vitamins, probiotics, and medication for joint health and macular degeneration. While no studies have been done regarding the potential harmful side effects, doctors say that they are confident that alternative medicines have some sort of biochemical reaction on the body. Doctors should approach senior oncology patients, and patients in general, in a clear and concise way so that patients understand that any medication being taken should be divulged to all medical professionals.

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