Breast cancer is rated as the most common cancer among women in Malaysia, resulting in 25% of cancer-related deaths in women. However, effective management has been impeded by the burgeoning use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by these patients. Indeed, women with breast cancer in Malaysia present at a later stage of the disease compared to women from other countries, and a contributing factor has been their preference for CAM treatment prior to seeking conventional therapy. This article explores the impetus behind the use of CAM, and highlights some measures that can be taken to address this issue. Some of the influencing factors noted were patients’ lack of knowledge, sociocultural factors, as well as poor communication with healthcare providers. There needs to be a concerted effort by the key players who are either directly or indirectly involved in the care of these patients to address whatever misconceptions they may have that are related to cancer as well as CAM use. Pharmacists especially, as the drug experts, can play a bigger role in educating these patients on the importance of using evidence-based treatments.
- breast cancer
- complementary and alternative medicine