Vol 17, No 4 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-03-03

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Alternative therapies in cancer treatment — hope or threat? (qualitative research)

Krzysztof Czerwiński1, Małgorzata Chmielewska2
DOI: 10.5603/OCP.2021.0006
Oncol Clin Pract 2021;17(4):135-138.


Introduction. Oncological patients, subject to strong emotions, may find it difficult to critically evaluate the information they receive on the effectiveness of the treatment offered, and therefore are susceptible to alternative methods, often abandoning the therapy recommended by a physician. The aim of this study was to analyze the way information is communicated to cancer patients by people promoting an alternative therapy, the use of intravenous infusions of vitamin C.

Material and methods. The research technique consisted of structured individual interviews conducted with Jerzy Zięba M.Eng. — author of the books: Hidden Therapies “What a doctor won’t tell you” part. 1 and 2, and with Dr Agnieszka Jagiełło-Gruszfeld — a clinician from the Warsaw Oncology Centre. The study was expanded by a review of the scientific literature on vitamin C therapy and factors influencing the behavior of patients with diagnosed cancer, including the sources of information they use.

Results. There is a significant disproportion in the assessment of the effectiveness of vitamin C treatment made by people promoting alternative medicine and clinicians. Visible differences relate to the level of objectivity, legibility, as well as the frequency of information provided about unconventional cancer treatment methods.

Conclusions. The obtained results indicate the need to increase the availability of information provided directly by physicians about the dangers of inappropriate treatments for cancer patients. In diagnostic and treatment procedures it is important to be aware of the consequences of a specific method and the quality of the conversation between the physician and the patient about alternative therapies, as it may determine the patient’s decision to choose a treatment.

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