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Deciding Whether CAM Is Appropriate for Your Patients

November 1, 2020
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Attend the 2020 ASH Practice Partnership Session

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The ASH Practice Partnership Session will follow a virtual format this year. The session will take place ahead of the 62nd ASH Annual Meeting on Monday, November 23, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The session titled, “To CAM or Not to, That Is the Question; Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Hematology,” will provide information and address the most common questions physicians experience about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that may be discussed by patients with their hematologist.

According to the National Cancer Institute, CAM is defined as medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care. Alternative medicine is used in lieu of standard medicine, while complementary medicine is used along with standard medical practices. An example of alternative medicine is a specialized diet or other form of naturopathy, and complementary medicine can include therapies such as acupuncture, which help lessen the adverse effects of cancer treatment. On careful evaluation, some CAM therapies have been found to be safe and effective, but research on others tends to be slow owing to issues including time, funding, and the ability to identify willing institutions and researchers. Additionally, some CAM therapies such as medical marijuana have run into regulatory hurdles, and communication about CAM use among patients, CAM providers, and hematologists is lacking. However, CAM therapies continue to be common among hematology patients who find them beneficial. For example, certain patients use the analgesic properties of medical marijuana for cancer and sickle cell disease, and many others rely on CAM to gain hope and improve their quality of life.

 ASH Committee on Practice Chair Dr. Chancellor E. Donald of Tulane University School of Medicine urged those interested to register, saying, “At the annual meeting, ASH has traditionally held a practice-focused event that has facilitated collegiality and extended discussions over lunch … This year’s educational presentation will focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Hematology, led by a panel of clinicians and researchers with a focus in this area.” Dr. Donald noted that the pandemic has highlighted medicine’s continual need for innovation and growth, stating that “the program will allow for the exploration of data and experiences of therapeutic modalities that may be unfamiliar to some as we aim to improve the care of our patients.”

Session speakers include Drs. Bipin N. Savani (Vanderbilt University), Ilana Braun (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), and Shawn Seibert (Illinois Cancercare). You can register online any time before November 23. If you are unable to attend, the session will be recorded and available for annual meeting attendees on the ASH website.

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