Thyroid cancer patients are increasingly using alternative therapies

In a report presented during the recent International Thyroid Congress, researchers from Boston University (BU) Medical Center found that more than 80 percent of patients with thyroid cancer report using some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy. However, for 18 percent of those individuals, their CAM use was neither known nor prescribed by their physician, and their physician did not ask them about it, Endocrine Today reports.

The results are based on survey responses from 1,326 patients with thyroid cancer. The majority of respondents were white females about 46 years old who had papillary thyroid cancer.

Multivitamins and prayer were the two most commonly used forms of CAM therapy, followed by massage, chiropractic, yoga, meditation and acupuncture. The five most frequently used biologic therapies were herbal tea, special diets, herbal supplements, homeopathy and ginger.

"Another interesting finding was that two-thirds of patients felt that their CAM use was helpful, and one-third felt it had no effect, but a significant 1.3 percent felt that their use actually had a bad effect on their treatment," said Jennifer E. Rosen, of the department of surgery at BU Medical Center.

She added that patients with thyroid cancer used CAM therapies twice as often as the general American population.

While the disease appears most often in people over 30, thyroid cancer can occur at any age, according to the National Cancer Institute.