NEW DELHI: Ayurveda is the most preferred Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among cancer patients in India even as a large section of them are not satisfied with such therapies, says a research carried out at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC).
The study finds wide usage of CAM amongst cancer patients in India. It also demonstrates a direct correlation between psychological distress and the usage of CAM therapies among cancer patients.For the study, 303 patients in the 15 to 88 age group undergoing treatment at RGCIRC were surveyed. More than a third (104 participants) responded positively to taking CAM therapies. Out of these (61%) took the therapies alternatively, before taking conventional treatment, and (39%) were still taking CAM in a complementary manner.
Ayurveda emerged as the most preferred form of therapy chosen by 85% of those surveyed. A majority of the participants are either from middle or lower-middle-class families (56% and 35%), respectively.Patients were also screened using a tool, Distress Thermometer (DT), for measuring subjective reports on the level and severity of distress on a scale of 0 to 10. While ‘0’ means no distress, ‘10’ reflects extreme distress. The study revealed significant psychological distress in 79% of all patients.
“A significant correlation was found between the level of psychological distress with the use of CAM therapies meaning that with increasing levels of psychological distress, patients tend to choose CAM more often,” said Dr. Vineet Talwar, Director, Medical Oncology, RGCIRC who headed the team undertaking the study.
Interestingly, awareness of cancer diagnosis and its prognosis was found to relieve psychological distress. Although, 81% of the patients felt there were no side effects associated with CAM therapies, but only 40% were satisfied with such therapies.
“CAM remains the popular choices of treatments among the Indian population and have been reported by some major studies. However, the use and prevalence of such treatments need more extensive exploration and documentation, significantly in the field of oncology,” said Dr Talwar.