Integrative oncology research in the Middle East: weaving traditional and complementary medicine in supportive care. Ben-Arye E, Ali-Shtayeh MS, Nejmi M, Schiff E, Hassan E, Mutafoglu K, Afifi FU, Jamous RM, Lev E, Silbermman M. Integrative Oncology Program, The Oncology Service and Lin Medical Center, Clalit Health Services, Haifa and Western Galilee District, 35 Rothschild St, Haifa, Israel, 35152, eranben@netvision.net.il. Support Care Cancer. 2011 Mar 1.

INTRODUCTION: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has an important role in supportive cancer care in the Middle East and is often used in association with traditional medicine. This article provides a comprehensive review of published data on CAM research in supportive cancer care in the Middle East.

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METHODS AND RESULTS: A multi-disciplinary Middle-Eastern Research Group in Integrative Oncology (MERGIO) was established in six countries. Authors independently searched Medline database for articles in Arabic, Hebrew, French, and Turkish using oncology and CAM-related keywords. Articles were recorded according to the first author’s affiliation with an academic or clinical institution in the Middle East.

RESULTS: We identified 143 articles on CAM and cancer care that had been published in12 Middle-Eastern countries. Eighty-five articles were directly related to cancer supportive care.

The latter included studies on the prevalence of CAM use by patients with cancer, aspects related to of doctor-patient communication, ethics and regulation, psychosocial aspects of CAM, CAM safety and quality assurance, studies of CAM education for health care providers, and ethno-botanical studies and reviews.

Twenty-eight articles referred to clinical research on supportive care, and the use of specific CAM modalities that included acupuncture, anthroposophic medicine, dietary and nutritional therapies herbal medicine, homeopathy, mind-body medicine, shiatsu, therapeutic touch, and yoga.

CONCLUSIONS: CAM-related supportive care research is prevalent in the Middle East, a fact that may serve as a basis for future multinational-multidisciplinary research work in supportive care in oncology.