Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer
You or your healthcare provider may want to try a cancer treatment that's not part
of standard medical care. Standard medicine is practiced by medical doctors. They
use treatments that have been:
Sometimes, they may also advise other therapies. These may be used to complement,
or complete, a conventional treatment plan. Sometimes people hear about alternative
therapies and want to know if these could help.
It's important to understand the difference between these 2 types of therapy:
Complementary medicine is any type of therapy used along with standard medicine. Complementary therapy often
tries to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Alternative medicine is used alone or in place of standard medical treatment. These treatments can delay
access to standard treatments that have been shown to help. Some of these treatments
can be harmful.
What's thought to be complementary and alternative medicine sometimes changes. This
is because these therapies may be eventually proven to be safe and effective. They
then become part of standard medicine.
Different types of therapies
Therapies that may be included in your treatment plan may include:
Things to think about
Most complementary and alternative medicine fields are not standardized or controlled
by standard medical guidelines. Talk with your healthcare provider before trying any
of these therapies. This is important because some of these therapies may interfere
with your standard treatment.
It's important to learn as much as you can when thinking about complementary or alternative
therapies. Before starting any new therapy, you should:
Talk with your healthcare provider.
Use your library to research books, articles, and scientific journals.
Use the Internet to do research. (Be careful of sites selling these products.)
Look for information on controlled, scientific studies on the therapy you are thinking
Talk with others who have actually tried the therapy.
Warning signs to look for
It's better to not try any treatment with the following warning signs:
It's based on unproven theories.
It promises or guarantees a cure.
It's a secret and can be given only by certain providers.
You must travel to another country to get it.
The provider criticizes standard medicine or tells you not to use standard medicine.
Working with your healthcare provider
It's best to talk with your healthcare provider about any complementary or alternative
therapy you'd like to try before spending your time and money on it. There may be
ways to safely use some of these treatments. But some might cause problems if you
use them along with standard treatments. Learn as much as you can so you can make
the choices that are best for you.