Alternative cancer treatments: 11 options to consider

Alternative cancer treatments can't cure your cancer, but they may provide some relief from signs and symptoms. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Many people with cancer are interested in trying anything that may help them, including complementary and alternative cancer treatments. If cancer makes you feel as if you have little control over your health, alternative cancer treatments may offer some feeling of control. But many alternative cancer treatments are unproved and many are even dangerous.

To help you sort out the good from the bad, here are 11 alternative cancer treatments that are generally safe. Plus, there is some evidence that these 11 alternative cancer treatments may provide some benefit.

How can alternative medicine help people with cancer?

Alternative cancer treatments won't play any role in curing your cancer, but they may help you cope with signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments. Common signs and symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, difficulty sleeping, and stress may be lessened by alternative treatments.

Use alternative cancer treatments as a supplement to treatments you receive from your doctor — not as a substitute for medical care. While alternative cancer treatments, such as acupuncture, may reduce nausea or pain, they generally aren't powerful enough to replace medications from your doctor. Work closely with your doctor to determine the right balance between traditional medicines and alternative cancer treatments.

If you're experiencingThen consider trying
Anxiety Hypnosis, massage, meditation, relaxation techniques
Fatigue Exercise, massage, relaxation techniques, yoga
Nausea and vomiting Acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, music therapy
Pain Acupuncture, aromatherapy, biofeedback, hypnosis, massage, music therapy
Sleep problems Exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga
Stress Aromatherapy, exercise, hypnosis, massage, meditation, tai chi, yoga
Jan. 19, 2012 See more In-depth