New findings support the use of Integrative Treatments in the fight against Breast Cancer.
The findings were as a result of a collaborative effort between Breast Cancer experts in various research institutes of repute in the United States and Canada, and are an addition to the ever growing library of reports, journals and other literature that target cancer patients, and specifically Breast cancer patients, the latest of which have been published online and in print in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a publication of the American Cancer Society.
The goal of the study was to provide patients, clinicians and other industry players with tangible data and information on how and when to use different Integrative Treatments for a specific clinical test during and after the treatment of Breast Cancer.
During these tests, some interventions did not have sufficient evidence to support specific recommendations. This is not to mean that the treatments did not work, but rather, the researchers did not know if they worked at that particular point in time, in what form it was, and what dosage would be effective.
The researcher’s faced a number of challenges including:
- Lack of standardisation of interventions across trials using similar therapeutic approached.
- Some therapies were administered at different stages of the disease.
- Many of the complementary therapies were low risk, and there was a lack of means to measure them.
Different therapies were evaluated and graded on the strength of evidence on their efficacy:
- Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage and music therapy are best used in cases where patients had suffered from depression or had undergone mood swings. They could also be used to improve the quality of life of the patients.
- Acupressure and acupuncture is preferred to treat and reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- There is a weak support for the use of dietary supplements as part of supportive care.
Meditation had the strongest evidence supporting its use, and is recommended for reducing anxiety, treating symptoms of depression, and improving quality of life, based on results from five trials.
Music therapy, yoga, and massage received a B grade for the same symptoms, as well as for providing benefits to breast cancer patients. Yoga received a B grade for improving quality of life based on two recent trials. Yoga and hypnosis received a C for fatigue.
These guidelines provide an important tool for Breast Cancer patients and their clinicians as they make decisions on what integrative therapies to use and not use. They demonstrate that it’s important to adopt a shared decision making approaches when assessing the risk-benefit ratio for each therapy. Most Breast Cancer patients have experimented with integrative therapies to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
It is recommended that clinicians personalise the treatments based on the patient’s clinical characteristic as no two patients are the same. A remedy that works on one, may not work on another person.