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Why You Shouldn't Hide Complementary Treatments From Your Doctor

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Published on June 28, 2016

Dr Fátima Cardoso, a breast cancer specialist at the Champalimaud Cancer Centre, Lisbon, Portugal, talks about the importance of having honest and open conversations with your doctor regarding complementary treatments you might be taking, or plan to take. Complimentary treatments may interact with the medication prescribed by your oncologist, and generate unpleasant side effects. If you are considering starting a complementary treatment, discuss it with your doctor and seek their advice. In this video, Dr Cardoso talks about randomised studies that show the beneficial impacts of certain complimentary treatments, such as acupuncture, to help relieve nausea and hot flashes. Recorded at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held in Chicago, IL.

This programme has been supported by Helsinn, through an unrestricted educational grant to the Patient Empowerment Foundation.

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Transcript | Why You Shouldn't Hide Complementary Treatments From Your Doctor

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Dr. Cardoso:

I think the most important message is that you should not decide to take any treatment and hide it from your oncologist. It is extremely important that there is an open communication. Fortunately, there is also that, let’s say, most of physicians are also more open for the use of these complementary medicines. And so this hiding should not happen, because although we may think they are innocuous, this is not always the case. They do have some side effects, and they also have some interactions with our common treatments being be it chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

So it’s very important that you speak openly with your physician and say, look, I would like to try this, what do you think about it? And there are also randomized trials looking at the efficacy of some of these therapies, for example, for the control of certain symptoms. And there has been some interest in publications, for example, for the use of acupuncture for the treatment of nausea and also for the treatment of hot flashes, something that happens very strongly in women where we induce a menopausal status. It’s something that we estimate about 80 to 85 percent of cancer patients use some form of complementary medicine but not all of them openly speak about it. For example, in our institution, what we have decided to do in our support center for breast cancer patients we actually have all, or several, of these complementary medicines but integrated with the let’s say traditional oncology so that everything can be done in a multidisciplinary way, avoiding confusion both for the patient—and most of all—interaction with the treatment.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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