Case Report

When complementary and alternative medicine intervenes in the conventional treatment of cancer patients: ethical analysis of a clinical case


Cancer patients are interested in complementary and alternative therapies. Providing complementary therapies to them should be based on the four principles of medical ethics. Ignoring these principles creates many ethical challenges in treating these patients. Shared decision-making between physician and patient is essential for the choice of complementary therapies. The use of complementary medicine that does not have the evidence on effectiveness causes that shared decision-making is not based on precise information, and therefore, patient autonomy is not achieved. When the conventional treatment of a cancer patient is replaced by a treatment for which there is no evidence of effectiveness, the principle of beneficence is violated. Failure to follow the basic standards of care in the provision of complementary medicine causes the patient to face profound side effects, indicating a lack of compliance with the principle of nonmaleficence. In the moral analysis of two patients’ treatment, we encounter violations of the principles of medical ethics. The traditional doctor must fully observe the principles of medical ethics in caring for their patients. The need for this is especially significant in patients with complex and severe disease.

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IssueVol 14 (2021) QRcode
SectionCase Report(s)
Neoplasm Complementary therapies Treatment refusal

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How to Cite
Saber M. When complementary and alternative medicine intervenes in the conventional treatment of cancer patients: ethical analysis of a clinical case. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 2021;14.