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Editorials |

Unconventional Cancer Therapies : What We Need Is Rigorous Research, Not Closed Minds

Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: Exeter, UK 
 ,  Dr. Ernst is Director of the Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter.

Correspondence to: Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, Department of Complementary Medicine, Postgraduate Medical School, 25 Victoria Rd, Exeter EX 2 4NT, UK; e-mail: e.ernst@exeter.ac.uk



Chest. 2000;117(2):307-308. doi:10.1378/chest.117.2.307
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On average, unconventional cancer therapies (UCTs) are used by 31% of all cancer patients.1 Many oncologists view this level of popularity with a mixture of bewilderment or worry and ask, “Why do patients insist on trying unproven and potentially hazardous treatments?” The answer is probably complex, and some people are tempted to refer to the zeitgeist or even point out the dawning of an “age of unreason.” But cancer patients are desperate individuals who understandably want to “leave no stone unturned.” Recently, it has been suggested that usage of UCTs might be a marker of anxiety in these patients.2 Cancer sufferers may also be disappointed with what they perceive as the depersonalized care of mainstream oncology and look toward the highly empathetic and personal attention of alternative practitioners.1


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