Complementary and alternative medicine use among patients with thyroid cancer

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Endocrine System Diseases | Health Psychology | Neoplasms | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: To report on the incidence and predictors of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among patients with thyroid cancer.

METHODS: Data were collected using a web-based online anonymous survey under Institutional Review Board approval from Boston University. This report is based on 1327 responses from subjects with thyroid cancer. Patient factors were compared by univariate and multivariate analyses.

RESULTS: After excluding multivitamin and prayer use, 74% (n=941) used CAM. Respondents were primarily over age 40, white, and female and held a college degree. The top five modalities were massage therapy, chiropraxy, special diets, herbal tea, and yoga. Few patients reported perceiving a particular modality had a negative effect on treatment. CAM was more often used for treatment of symptoms (73%) than as part of thyroid cancer treatment (27%). Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that patients reporting a poor health status, higher education, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary symptoms, or persistent, recurrent, or metastatic disease were more likely to use CAM for treatment of thyroid cancer symptoms. Nearly one third of respondents reported their CAM use was not known, prescribed, or asked about by their physicians.

CONCLUSIONS: In comparison to national surveys of the general U.S. population, patients with thyroid cancer use CAM therapies twice as often and report their use far less often. Physicians who treat patients with thyroid cancer should be aware of these data to further assist in their assessment and care.


complementary and alternative medicine, thyroid cancer

DOI of Published Version



Thyroid. 2013 Oct;23(10):1238-46. doi: 10.1089/thy.2012.0495. Epub 2013 Jul 25. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association


At the time of publication, Paula Gardiner was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID