Glob Public Health 2019 03 16;14(3):418-430. Epub 2018 Oct 16.
Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.
The use of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine (TCAM) for cancer may influence the delivery or effectiveness of conventional cancer treatment. In this systematic review, we aimed to (1) summarise the available prevalence data on traditional medicine use by cancer patients in less developed countries (LDCs), and (2) stratify the prevalence data by world region and country income level. A literature search for cancer, TCAM, and low income (LI) and lower-middle income (LMI) countries was conducted across 5 databases. A total of 2,365 publications were reviewed for eligibility, of which 25 studies met inclusion criteria. The combined sample size was 6,878 cancer patients, with a median of 54.5% reporting the use of TCAM for cancer care. Of the studies providing data on the concomitant use of TCAM and conventional cancer treatment ( = 4,872 cancer patients), a median of 26.7% of participants reported combining the two systems of medicine. From the data available, it is apparent that TCAM use among cancer patients in less developed countries is common; however, additional studies are needed to support the safe and effective management of cancer for patients in LI and LMI countries.