Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

Predictors of complementary medicine use and its effects on health outcomes in patients with cancer

Principal Investigator: Mr Chun Sing Lam
Approved Research ID: 74158
Approval date: July 5th 2021

Lay summary

Cancer is a major burden of disease worldwide. With the advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the global survival rate of cancer has improved tremendously. However, cancer patients and survivors treated with conventional therapies often experience treatment-related toxicities and chronic symptoms after active treatment hence reduce the quality of life. While the global cancer burden is expected to grow, the resulting needs demand greater attention. Many cancer patients turn to complementary medicines (CM) to address these issues due to the limitations of conventional care. Some CM approaches have been found useful in alleviating cancer-related complications. For example, fish oil supplements decreased fatigue and pain in cancer patients, while glucosamine/chondroitin improved bone pain. However, real-world data on how CM affects health outcomes other than mortality in cancer patients is lacking.

A prospective analysis will be conducted using data collected in the UK Biobank study, linked to outcome data derived from National Health Service records. In this study, we will 1) investigate the prevalence and pattern of CM use among patients with cancer; 2) identify factors (sociodemographics, socioeconomic, lifestyle and medical) associated with the use of CM among patients with cancer; 3) examine the associations of CM use with health and psychological outcomes in patients with cancer and potential CM-drug interactions. The expected duration of the project is 3 years.

By gathering real-world data, this study can provide directions for future research in incorporating CM into cancer care to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors. It may also help generate data to formulate evidence-based suggestions for patients and healthcare providers regarding the efficacy of CM. Additionally, understanding the factors in using CM can allow more efficient dialogues between healthcare providers and patients.