Express press service
NEW DELHI: Ayurveda is the preferred complementary and alternative medicine for cancer patients in India, although a large proportion of them are not satisfied with these therapies, according to research conducted at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center (RGCIRC) .
The study reveals wide usage of CAM among cancer patients in India. It also demonstrates a direct correlation between psychological distress and the use of CAM therapies in cancer patients. More than a third (104 participants) responded positively to taking CAM therapies. Of these (61%) were taking alternating therapies, before taking a conventional treatment, and (39%) were still taking CAMs as a supplement.
Ayurveda emerged as the most preferred form of therapy chosen by 85% of respondents. The majority of participants come from middle or lower class families (56% and 35%), respectively. Patients were also screened using a tool, Distress Thermometer (DT), to measure subjective reports of 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 and the use of CAM therapies, which means that with increasing levels of psychological distress, patients tend to choose CAMs more often,” said Dr Vineet Talwar, Director, Medical Oncology, RGCIRC who led the study team.
Interestingly, knowing the diagnosis of cancer and its prognosis has been found to relieve psychological distress. Although 81% of patients felt that there were no side effects associated with CAM therapies, only 40% were satisfied with these therapies.
“CAMs remain the popular treatment choices among the Indian population and have been reported by some major studies. However, the use and prevalence of these treatments needs further exploration and documentation, especially in the field of oncology. said Dr. Talwar.