You may have heard the terms "alternative" or "complementary" used to refer to some methods of finding, preventing, or treating cancer.
"Complementary" treatment refers to methods that are used in addition to and right along with usual or standard medical care.
"Alternative" treatment refers to methods that are used instead of or in place of usual or standard medical treatments.
How can you know if these approaches are safe and whether they might help you? How can you find out about specific Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Treatments you have heard about?
There are many complementary methods you can safely use along with standard treatment to help relieve symptoms or side effects, to ease pain, and to help you enjoy life more.
However, you should always discuss your use of CAM with your health care provider BEFORE you start any CAM treatment because:
- Some CAM treatments can be very harmful if used in combination with your current treatment.
- Some CAM treatments have been shown to promote the growth of cancer cells instead of or along with strengthening the immune system.
- Some CAM treatments have been shown to have a harmful effect on the kidneys, liver and other organs when used along with chemotherapy.
Below is a list of resources to help you find out more information on CAM. You may want to start with The American Cancer Society's (ACS) website on CAM. Start by reading over the information in the ACS's Introduction to CAM web page. It provides information on:
- the difference between "complementary" and "alternative" treatment
- why you should always discuss your use of CAM with your health care provider
- the definitions for many terms used that are related to CAM
- descriptions of a variety of complementary treatments to help manage pain and side effects of cancer and its treatment.
Tip: Follow the ACS's "Introduction to CAM" web page link below. Keep scrolling down on this page for additional resources on CAM. www.cancer.org
About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products www.mskcc.org/mskcc/
The website of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center provides information about herbs and other products, including a clinical summary for each agent and details about adverse side effects, interactions and potential benefits or problems.
This website also contains links to many other credible web sites about Integrative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The American Cancer Society
Complementary and Alternative Treatment
1-800-ACS-2345 / www.cancer.org/
Easy- to- use website, full of highly credible information on a wide variety of many types of Complementary and Alternative Treatments.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Questions and Answers
The fact sheet from National Cancer Institute " Complementary and Alternative Medicine" answers some frequently asked questions about the use of CAM therapies among the general public, and about how CAM approaches are evaluated, and suggests sources for further information..
Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
1-800-4-CANCER / www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/treatment/CAM
This web page includes the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ) cancer info summaries on complementary and alternative medicine.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
1-888-644-6226 / ncCAM.nih.gov/
Provides the latest news, research, events and clinical trials in complementary medicine.
The National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The website provides science-based information on Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Cancer.