There is limited information on the association among complementary medicin (CM), toxicities and overall survival of patients with cancer who receive CM compared with those who do not.
This is a prospective study including 223 patients collected during 6 months between July 15, 2018 and January 15, 2019 in the department of medical oncology at the Habib Bourguiba university Hospital. All patients were questioned about the concept of taking herbs and botanicals such as gravila and Alinda. We analyzed the demographic data, the toxicities after the consumption of plants as well as the causal link. Then we compared overall survival among those who receive plants versus the non-users.
The average age was 53 years (2-86 years old). There were 152 women and 71 men. 83 patients were illiterate (37.2%). 110 patients had breast cancer (49.3%), the others included colorectal, endometrial, cervical, gastric, ovarian, lung, bladder and head and neck cancers). 97 had metastatic disease (43.4%). 97 patients had taken plants (43.4%), during the medical treatment in 57 cases (58.7%). 60 patients had consumed Alinda (61.8%) and 36 patients had received Graviola (37.1%). 62 women had taken plants against 37 men (χ2 = 1.425, ddl = 1, α = 5%, p = 0.147). 49 patients with metastatic disease had taken plants against 48 with localized cancer (χ2 = 3.468, ddl = 2, α = 5%, p = 0.177). 10 patients have had diarrhea (10.3%), 10 cytolysis (10.3%), 11 cholestasis (11.3%), 15 thrombocytosis (15.4%), 17 leukocytosis (17.5%) and 13 anemia (13.4%). Only leukocytosis, thrombocytosis, and diarrhea were related to plant consumption with p = 0.0001, p = 0.016 and p = 0.014 respectively. Overall survival at 5 years was 67.1%. It was lower in patients consuming the plants (54% vs 83% p = 0.023).
The consumption of Graviola and Alinda was associated with a decrease in the 5 years overall survival (p = 0.023). It was associated with leukocytosis, thrombocytosis, and diarrhoea. This consumption was not statistically different between men and women nor between the localized or metastatic stage.
Clinical trial identification
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.