Use of complementary and alternative medicine therapies to control symptoms in women living with lung cancer

Marjorie Wells, Linda Sarna, Mary E. Cooley, Jean K. Brown, Cynthia C Chernecky, Roma D. Williams, Geraldine Padilla, Leda Layo Danao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by cancer patients, especially women, is increasing. However, CAM use among patients with lung cancer, who have been reported to have the highest symptom burden, is poorly documented. This study describes types and frequencies of specific CAM therapies used by women with lung cancer to manage symptoms, and examines differences in demographic and clinical characteristics between CAM users and non-CAM users. Participants included 189 women with non-small cell lung cancer and ≥1 of 8 symptoms. Six CAM therapies, used to control symptoms, were assessed, including herbs, tea, acupuncture, massage, meditation, and prayer. Forty-four percent (84 women) used CAM therapies, including prayer (34.9%), meditation (11.6%), tea (11.6%), herbs (9.0%), massage (6.9%), and acupuncture (2.6%). Complementary and alternative medicine use was greatest for difficulty breathing and pain (54.8% each), with prayer the most commonly used CAM for all symptoms. Significant differences (P < .05) were found for age (t = 2.24), symptom frequency (t = -3.02), and geographic location (χ = 7.51). Women who were younger, experienced more symptoms, and lived on the West Coast or South (vs Northeast) were more likely to use CAM. We found that CAM use is variable by symptom and may be an indicator of symptom burden. Our results provide important initial data regarding CAM use for managing symptoms by women with lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Complementary therapies
  • Lung cancer
  • Symptom management
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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