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  • In the United States, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in adult patients with skin disease, including skin cancer, is on the rise.

  • CAM treatments are commonly promoted on social media for skin cancer prevention and treatment.

  • Although some CAM therapies have demonstrated successful clinical outcomes with minimal adverse effects, many lack strong scientific data to support their efficacy and safety in skin cancer prevention and treatment.


  • Many patients with skin disease who opt for CAM therapies do not discuss these treatments with their health care provider.


  • Dermatologists need to stay up to date on the safety and efficacy of CAM modalities to effectively counsel their patients.

  • Dermatologists should initiate a discussion with their patients about CAM use.


  • Patients should be counseled that many popular CAM modalities have not been adequately tested for clinical efficacy.

  • Like conventional treatments, CAM treatments have the potential to cause adverse effects and can interact with and alter the metabolism of their other medications, potentially causing more harm than good.


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in the United States is increasingly common among patients with skin conditions, with an increase in CAM usage from around 50% in 2002 to 84% in 2007.1 Fish oil, glucosamine, glucosamine chondroitin, and omega-3 are the most common CAM therapies used in those with skin disease.2 Approximately 30% of CAM users with skin disease report having skin cancer, with 24% reporting nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), 6.7% reporting melanoma, and 7.7% reporting an unknown skin cancer type.1 Despite the popularity of CAM, many physicians and consumers have little understanding of the potential benefits and risks of these therapies, including potential interactions with conventional treatments.3,4 With the rising interest in the use of natural preparations, there has been an upsurge in scientific scrutiny of these therapies. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate vitamin and herbal products, which are categorized as dietary supplements. In addition, there is no standardization or control of the type, quality, and quantity of ingredients. Moreover, among those using CAM remedies for skin disease, only 51.5% of patients report discussing CAM use with their health care provider.1 This chapter reviews CAM therapies that may have a role in the prevention or treatment of skin cancer, including mineral, botanical, and vitamin-based compounds. In addition, dietary interventions and natural approaches to complement medical, surgical, and radiation management of skin cancer are discussed.


Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The rise in its incidence has aroused public awareness about the importance of sun protection and the safety and efficacy of sunscreen usage. There are two main types of ingredients used in sunscreens: inorganic (physical) and organic (chemical). Inorganic ...

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