Complementary therapies - safety issues
Many people with cancer use one or more kinds of alternative or complementary therapies. Often they are reluctant to tell their doctors about their decision. The best approach is to look carefully at your choices. Talk to your doctor about any method you are considering.
There are many complementary methods you can safely use along with standard mainstream treatment to help relieve symptoms or side effects, to ease pain, and to help you enjoy life more. Here is a partial list of some complementary methods that some people have found helpful when used along with medical treatment:
prayer, spiritual practices
But if you are thinking about using any other method instead of
evidence-based medical treatment, look first at the questions below.
Questions to Ask About Alternative and Complementary Therapies
What claims are made for the treatment: to cure the cancer or to enable the evidence-based treatment to work better? to relieve symptoms or side effects?
What are the credentials of those supporting the treatment? Are they recognized experts in cancer treatment? Have they published their findings in trustworthy journals?
How is the method promoted? Is it promoted only in the mass media (books, magazines, TV and radio talk shows) rather than in scientific journals?
What are the costs of the therapy?
Is the method widely available for use within the health-care community, or is it controlled with access to its use limited?
If used in place of standard therapies or clinical trials, will the ensuing delay affect any chances for cure or advance the cancer stage?
Signs of Treatments to Avoid
Use the checklist below to spot those approaches that might be open to question. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor or nurse before moving ahead.
Is the treatment based on an unproven theory?
Does the treatment promise a cure for all cancers?
Are you told not to use conventional medical treatment?
Is the treatment or drug a "secret" that only certain providers can give?
Does the treatment require you to travel to another country?
Do the promoters attack the medical/scientific establishment?
Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.