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Last Updated: 11/9/12

CAM Information

The Patient’s Perspective: What Do Cancer Patients and Caregivers Want to Know?

In view of the large and growing use of CAM among cancer patients, three groups at NCI (OCCAM, Office of Education and Special Initiatives, and Research and Evaluation Branch) worked with NCCIH to conduct focus groups with cancer patients and caregivers to explore their educational needs regarding CAM. Six 90-minute computer-assisted telephone focus group discussions were conducted with 52 patients and caregivers of patients who had undergone conventional treatment and used complementary medicine for their cancer. In addition, six in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with cancer patients who used alternative therapy rather than conventional treatments.

This exploratory research with patients and caregivers from across the country found that these individuals often expected and experienced important benefits from seeking and using CAM. Likewise, they perceived important unmet needs for readily accessible, credible, relevant sources of CAM information. They expressed a need for more efficient, systematic, productive ways of finding trustworthy, relevant sources of information. Typically, they have located information under conditions of great stress and uncertainty, and would welcome improvements in that process.

Results of this study guided the development of a booklet by NCI and NCCIH titled Thinking about Complementary & Alternative Medicine. For more information about cancer and CAM or to obtain a copy of the booklet, please call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

Finding CAM Information on the NCI Web Site

The public has questions about CAM and cancer. NCI has developed PDQ (Physician Data Query) Cancer Information Summaries on various CAM approaches. These summaries are written by the NCI PDQ Cancer CAM Editorial Board-experts in oncology, pharmacology, natural products, drug discovery and development, representatives from the cancer patient community, plus CAM therapies such as traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Updated regularly, each summary contains background information about the treatment; a brief history of its development; information about its proposed mechanism(s) of action; and information about relevant laboratory, animal, and clinical studies.

CAM PDQ Cancer Information Summaries are available via the Internet at or by calling the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

PDQ CAM-related summaries and other NCI information products are available on the following topics:

  • 714-X
  • Acupuncture
  • Antineoplastons
  • Aromatherapy
  • Cancell/Entelev
  • Cartilage (Bovine and Shark)
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Garlic and Cancer Prevention
  • Gerson Therapy
  • Gonzalez Regimen
  • Hydrazine Sulfate
  • Laetrile/Amygdalin
  • Milk Thistle
  • Mistletoe Extracts
  • Tea and Cancer Prevention

Looking for CAM Information?

NCI Office of Cancer Complementary & Alternative Medicine (OCCAM)

NCI’s Cancer Information Service

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH)

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements Database

National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus

Food and Drug Administration

Sign-up for OCCAM’s Listserv

Stay up-to-date on the latest cancer CAM news at NCI with OCCAM’s listserv, OCCAM Announcements. As a listserv subscriber, you will receive a monthly email about upcoming workshops and lectures, new funding opportunities, publications, and other resources. To subscribe, simply visit OCCAM’s Web site:

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