Many cancer patients are interested in trying anything that may help them throughout their course of therapy, including complementary and alternative cancer treatments, therapies that have not been approved by our governing regulatory agencies or supported by clinical studies.
Patients look to complementary and alternative therapies in hopes of helping with the signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments. Such symptoms can include: anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, difficulty sleeping, and stress.
The following is a list of complementary or alternative treatments felt to be safe. Growing evidence shows that these types of treatments, which may work well when combined, may provide some benefits.
- Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years and is used to reduce nausea and pain, relieve muscle strains, help with constipation, and improve overall moods.
- Aroma therapy is the use of fragrant oils to provide a calming environment. An example is sprinkling lavender oil on tissue and placing it under the bed pillow.
- Gentle exercise may help fight fatigue and stress and improve sleep. Many studies have shown that exercise can help cancer patients live longer and have a better quality of life.
- Massage therapy can be used to relieve muscle tension and stress and to promote relaxation. Many cancer centers now offer massages as part of their treatment regimen.
- Meditation has been found to help relieve anxiety and stress. Mediation can be done individually for a few minutes every day or in classes with an instructor.
- Music therapy, listening to songs and music that lift the spirit, can help relieve pain and control nausea and vomiting.
- Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise where gentle movements are used in conjunction with deep breathing. Tai Chi has been found to decrease pain, not only in cancer patients but also in people diagnosed with fibromyalgia and with stroke sufferers.
Before starting any of these alternative or complementary therapies, please talk to your doctor to ensure it is safe with your current plan of treatment.