Complementary and alternative medicine in the management of lymphomas: Prevalence, rationale and contraindications

  • Christine D Lukac School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, UBC, Vancouver, BC
  • David D W Twa Department of Lymphoid Cancer, BC Caner Agency, Vancouver, BC


In Canada, lymphomas cumulatively account for the fifth most prevalent cancer and the incidence of this heterogeneous grouping of malignancies is increasing. Though recent advances in allopathic molecularly precise therapies have improved patient survival, many lymphoma patients still succumb to their disease and experience reduced quality of life measures as a result of disease and allopathic treatment-related side effects. In light of these outcomes, studies have reported that patients frequently use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help manage their disease. As most patients elect to engage in CAM concurrently with allopathic therapy, it is necessary to consider commonly practiced CAM modalities that have outright and/or synergistically harmful side effects that limit the efficacy of allopathic therapy in treating lymphomas. In spite of the limited scientific evidence supporting CAM efficacy, healthcare providers should still acknowledge the reasons why patients might choose to use CAM. Here, we examine recent findings on prevalence, rationale and contraindications for CAM usage by lymphoma patients. Taken together, we believe this analysis may facilitate informed discussion on the disadvantages and advantages of CAM and when it might be used to appropriately manage lymphoma and allopathic treatment-related symptoms.