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COMy 2021 | Complementary and alternative medicine in hematologic disease: help or harm?

Mohamad Mohty, MD, PhD, Saint-Antoine Hospital, Paris, France, discusses the use of nutritional supplements and complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) in patients with hematologic diseases. There is a high prevalence of CAM use among cancer survivors and patients with hematologic malignancies, despite a lack of supporting evidence. Prof. Mohty highlights the importance of clear patient-physician dialogue surrounding the benefits and potential harms associated with the use of these practices and supplements so that informed decisions can be made. This interview took place during the 7th World Congress on Controversies in Multiple Myeloma (COMy), 2021.

Transcript (edited for clarity)

We usually speak about treatment of cancer and treatment of hematologic malignancies, and we always think in terms of novel molecules, novel complications. Here, I would like to highlight something we did recently with some colleagues where we reviewed the evidence around complementary and alternative medicine products, especially nutritional supplements. And we know very well that, in addition to the treatment prescribed by the hematologist and by the physicians, the patients are very keen on taking these kinds of nutritional supplement and maybe alternative medicine...

We usually speak about treatment of cancer and treatment of hematologic malignancies, and we always think in terms of novel molecules, novel complications. Here, I would like to highlight something we did recently with some colleagues where we reviewed the evidence around complementary and alternative medicine products, especially nutritional supplements. And we know very well that, in addition to the treatment prescribed by the hematologist and by the physicians, the patients are very keen on taking these kinds of nutritional supplement and maybe alternative medicine.

And I think we, as physicians and healthcare providers, we need to be aware of this and have a very clear, transparent discussion with the patient, trying to evaluate the pluses and minuses of using this kind of supplements. And because some of them may be useful to the patient, but also some of them may represent some contraindication with some drugs. So, I think this is really important to put under discussion actually with the patient and their families, and not simply skip it, because actually this close communication and transparency and dialogue between the patient and the healthcare professionals is really something mandatory towards optimizing the outcome of patients with malignant, hematologic diseases.

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