Survey of the use of traditional and complementary medicine among children with cancer at three hospitals in Cameroon Academic Article uri icon

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  • 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 was to determine the prevalence and types of traditional and complementary medicine (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.


    A prospective, cross-sectional survey among 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.


    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, whereas 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 five 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 (53.7%) or provided free of charge (29.6%). Of importance was the fact that nearly half (44%) did not want to disclose the use of TM to their doctor.


    Pediatric oncology patients used T&CM before and during treatment but were unlikely to disclose its use to the child's health care team.


  • Afungchwi, Glenn M
  • Kruger, Mariana
  • Hesseling, Peter
  • van Elsland, Sabine
  • Ladas, Elena J
  • Marjerrison, Stacey

publication date

  • August 2022