Alternative cancer treatments: 10 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 some may even be dangerous.
To help you sort out the good from the bad, here are 10 alternative cancer treatments that are generally safe. Plus, there is growing evidence that these 10 alternative cancer treatments may provide some benefit.
How can alternative medicine help people with cancer?
Alternative cancer treatments may not play a direct 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.
Integrating the best of evidence-based complementary and alternative cancer treatments with the treatments you receive from your doctor may help relieve many of the symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment. Discuss all of your options with your doctor and together you can determine which strategies might work for you and which are likely to have no benefit.
Work closely with your doctor to determine the right balance between traditional medicines and alternative cancer treatments. While complementary and alternative cancer treatments, such as acupuncture, may reduce nausea or pain, they generally aren't powerful enough to replace cancer medications from your doctor.
Feb. 18, 2017
|If you're experiencing:
||Then consider trying:
||Hypnosis, massage, meditation, relaxation techniques
||Exercise, massage, relaxation techniques, yoga
|Nausea and vomiting
||Acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, music therapy
||Acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, massage, music therapy
||Exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga
||Aromatherapy, exercise, hypnosis, massage, meditation, tai chi, yoga
See more In-depth
- Deng GE, et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: Complementary therapies and botanicals. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2009;7:85.
- Deng GE, et al. Complementary therapies and integrative medicine in lung cancer: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (3rd edition). Chest. 2013;143(suppl):420S.
- Aromatherapy and essential oils (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/aromatherapy-pdq. Accessed Dec. 12, 2016.
- Massage therapy for health purposes. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/massage/massageintroduction.htm. Accessed Dec. 12, 2016.
- Adult cancer pain. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Dec. 12, 2016.
- Antiemesis. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Dec. 12, 2016.
- Cancer-related fatigue. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Dec. 12, 2016.