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Many Brain Tumor Patients Turn to Alternative Therapies

MONDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- About 40 percent of patients with incurable brain tumors use alternative therapies in addition to conventional treatments, finds a new study.

German researchers asked 621 patients with incurable grade II to grade IV gliomas (tumors) about their use of alternative therapies.

Of those who used alternative remedies, 39 percent used homeopathy, 31 percent used vitamin supplements and 29 percent tried psychological therapies.

The study also found that younger patients, women and those with higher levels of education were more likely to use alternative therapies than older patients, men and those with less education.

Common reasons patients cited for using alternative therapies included building up the body's ability to fight the cancer and being able to do something to help themselves.

The study appears in the Dec. 14 print issue of the journal Neurology.

"The majority of people are turning to alternative treatments not because they are dissatisfied with their conventional care, but because they wish to add something beneficial to their care," study author Dr. Oliver Heese, a neurosurgeon at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

"The use of these alternative treatments may be largely overlooked and underestimated," Heese added. "Doctors need to be aware of patients' desire to seek alternative treatments and encourage an open discussion of options. Their guidance may be much appreciated, especially when some treatments are dubious, expensive or potentially harmful."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about complementary and alternative therapies in cancer treatment.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Dec. 13, 2010

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