Survey of the Use of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM)
Among Children with Cancer at three hospitals in Cameroon.
Introduction There is lack of diagnostic and treatment resources with
variable access to childhood cancer treatment in low- and middle-income
countries (LMIC), which may lead to subsequent poor survival. The
primary aim of this study is to determine the prevalence and types of
T&CM used in Cameroon. Secondarily, we explored determinants of T&CM
use, associated costs, perceived benefits and harm, and disclosure of
T&CM use to medical team. Method A prospective, cross-sectional survey
amongst parents and carers of children younger than 15 years of age who
had a cancer diagnosis and received cancer treatment at three Baptist
Mission hospitals between November 2017 and February 2019. Results
Eighty participants completed the survey. Median patient age was 8.1
years (IQR4.1 – 11.1). There was significant availability (90%) and
use (67.5%) of T&CM, while 24% thought T&CM would be good for cancer
treatment. Common T&CM remedies included herbs and other plant remedies
or teas taken by mouth, prayer for healing purposes and skin cutting.
Living more than 5 hours away from the treatment center (p=0.030),
anticipated costs (0.028), and a habit of consulting a traditional
healer when sick (p=0.006) were associated with the use of T&CM. T&CM
was mostly paid for in cash (36.3%) or provided free of charge (20%).
Of importance was the fact that nearly half (44%) did not want to
disclose the use of TM to their doctor. Conclusion Pediatric oncology
patients used T&CM before and during treatment but would be unlikely to
disclose to the child’s health care team.