Can complementary medicine increase adherence to chemotherapy dosing protocol? A controlled study in an integrative oncology setting

Ilanit Shalom-Sharabi, Ofer Lavie, Noah Samuels, Lital Keinan-Boker, Efraim Lev, Eran Ben-Arye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context and objectives The impact of complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) on adherence to chemotherapy regimens is unclear. We explored the effect of patient-tailored CIM treatments on the relative dose intensity (RDI) of chemotherapy among patients with breast and gynecological cancer. Methods Chemotherapy-treated patients with breast or gynecological cancer were referred by their oncology health-care professional to a CIM treatment program. Adherence to integrative care (AIC) was defined as ≥4 CIM treatments, with ≤30 days between each treatment. Relative dose intensity (RDI) of chemotherapy was compared between CIM-treated patients and controls, and among adherence sub-groups. Results RDI was calculated for 106-treated patients (62 AIC) and 75 controls. Baseline-to-6-week RDI values were similar in both study arms, with a lower % RDI <1.0 among controls at 12 weeks (47 vs. 57.5%; P = 0.036). Adherence sub-groups had similar RDI values, though at 6 weeks, the AIC group had lower % RDI <1.0 (33.9 vs. 54.5%, P = 0.046). Total administered medication dose/ planned dose was higher in the AIC group at 6 weeks for paclitaxel (82%/50%, P = 0.025) and carboplatin (87%/67%, P = 0.028), with no difference in cytoxan/adriamycin dosages. Conclusion A patient-tailored CIM program for patients with breast or gynecological cancer may be associated with a lower percentage of reduced RDI at 6 weeks, this in a subgroup of patients with higher adherence to CIM, and for specific chemotherapy agents, though this benefit did not persist after 12 weeks. Further research is needed to better understand the impact of CIM in cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2535-2543
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017.


  • Adherence
  • Breast cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Complementary medicine
  • Integrative medicine
  • Relative dose intensity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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