Since 2004, Burton-upon-Trent's NHS Hospital Breast Care Unit has run a homeopathy service providing an alternative therapy for symptoms affecting women during and after treatment of their primary disease. The majority suffer from menopause-type symptoms arising from breast cancer treatment. Such symptoms can be bad enough to affect long-term compliance with drug regimes. Patients receive a course of treatment from a qualified homeopath, consisting of a series of patient-centred consultations plus individualised homeopathic medicines. The present study aimed to evaluate the benefit gained by women attending the homeopathic service between April 2005 and March 2007.
Routine data gathered at each homeopathic consultation included a validated patient-generated and assessed outcome measure (MYMOP2), in which patients choose their worst symptoms, and score them and their general wellbeing on a seven-point Lickert scale from 0 (very good) to 6 (very bad). A change >0.8 is considered clinically significant improvement.
Initial and final MYMOP2 data were collected from 104 women, mean age 51.2 years, range 19–74 years. The most frequently chosen worst symptoms were hot flushes (46%), breast pain (19%), depression/anxiety (10%) and aches/pains (9%). The mean worst symptom score at presentation was 4.1 ± 0.126, and at the end of the course was 2.34 ± 0.16 (P < 0.001), with 73% reporting an improvement ≥ 1. General wellbeing at presentation scored 3.2 ± 0.13 and at the end 2.3 ± 0.15 (P < 0.001).
These results indicate that homeopathy can offer a valuable addition to mainstream conventional therapy for breast cancer patients, possibly helping to improve compliance and therefore long-term survival.