Integrative oncology research in the Middle East: Weaving traditional and complementary medicine in supportive care

Eran Ben-Arye, Mohammed Saleem Ali-Shtayeh, Mati Nejmi, Elad Schiff, Esmat Hassan, Kamer Mutafoglu, Fatma U. Afifi, Rana Majed Jamous, Efraim Lev, Michael Silbermman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has an important role in supportive cancer care in the Middle East and is often used in association with traditional medicine. This article provides a comprehensive review of published data on CAM research in supportive cancer care in the Middle East. Methods and results: A multi-disciplinary Middle-Eastern Research Group in Integrative Oncology (MERGIO) was established in six countries. Authors independently searched Medline database for articles in Arabic, Hebrew, French, and Turkish using oncology and CAM-related keywords. Articles were recorded according to the first author's affiliation with an academic or clinical institution in the Middle East. Results: We identified 143 articles on CAM and cancer care that had been published in12 Middle-Eastern countries. Eighty-five articles were directly related to cancer supportive care. The latter included studies on the prevalence of CAM use by patients with cancer, aspects related to of doctor-patient communication, ethics and regulation, psychosocial aspects of CAM, CAM safety and quality assurance, studies of CAM education for health care providers, and ethno-botanical studies and reviews. Twenty-eight articles referred to clinical research on supportive care, and the use of specific CAM modalities that included acupuncture, anthroposophic medicine, dietary and nutritional therapies herbal medicine, homeopathy, mind-body medicine, shiatsu, therapeutic touch, and yoga. Conclusions: CAM-related supportive care research is prevalent in the Middle East, a fact that may serve as a basis for future multinational-multidisciplinary research work in supportive care in oncology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-564
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Complementary alternative medicine
  • Doctor-patient communication
  • Integrative medicine
  • Islamic medicine
  • Middle East
  • Oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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