The use of herbal products and dietary supplements (HDS) seem to be common among Filipinos. Among patients living with cancer, this is an important concern due to potential adverse effects and harmful interactions with conventional systemic therapy. Unfortunately, data is lacking regarding the prevalence and patterns of HDS use in this population.
380 patients with cancer on follow-up at the PGH Medical Oncology outpatient clinic were surveyed regarding their status and patterns of HDS intake. Information sought included timing of initation, frequency of use, monitoring, sources of information, expenditure, and intended purpose. Data on doctor-patient discussions were also obtained. HDS intake was correlated with demographic data using crude odds ratio. Data analysis was done using Microsoft Excel.
Among 380 respondents, 88.95% reported ever using HDS, with 178 (46.84%) having used in the past month. The demographic characteristics of HDS users did not differ significantly from non-users. Among 338 ever users, majority (63.02%) initiated HDS only after cancer diagnosis; 62.72% reported almost daily use. Mean reported HDS expenditure was PhP 2,463.78 monthly. Users were largely unmonitored (76.29%), and 42.31% reported to have used HDS while on systemic therapy. Eighty-five patients (25.15%) reported to have previously delayed conventional treatment in favor of HDS. Only 30.53% of patients ever had discussions on HDS in the clinic, of which only 24 (20.69% of discussions) were doctor-initiated.
HDS use is prevalent among Filipinos with cancer and can potentially lead to delays and interference with systemic treatment. The outpatient consult is a golden opportunity to properly educate patients regarding HDS use.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Philippine General Hospital - Department of Medicine.
Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.