Every year, thousands of Australians are suffering and dying prematurely because of alternative cancer treatments, according to a special investigation by Dr Paul Willis, director of The Royal Institution of Australia.
The report details the distressingly high number of cancer sufferers who choose to forego conventional treatment altogether in search of an alternative cure.
"When we are talking about cancer there is a difference between complementary treatments and alternative cures", said Dr Willis. "Many of the front-line cancer medical practitioners we spoke with encourage their patients to seek out unconventional, complementary treatments to help them through their ordeal".
Dr Willis says the concern here is when a patient takes up an alternative non evidence-based "cure" for their cancer to the exclusion of conventional medical treatments.
The report highlights the lack of recorded evidence of the efficacy of alternative treatments, since alternative medical practitioners are under no obligation to record their treatments or the progress of those treatments. Of increasing concern is also the number of cancer suffers who return to conventional medicine after trying to find an alternative cure.
"Usually this occurs when things go wrong, the cancer has progressed and, what may have been a treatable condition has developed into an untreatable cancer with poor prognosis", said Dr Willis. "Better education and awareness of what treatments are available as well as proper supporting documentation and hard data from alternative practitioners is required to empower cancer suffers to make more informed decisions on their overall treatment".