Frequently Asked Questions

“Can I safely use an alternative or complementary medicine?

Excerpted from the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) :

Many people with cancer use one or more kinds of alternative or complementary therapies. And they often don’t tell their doctors about these decisions. The best approach is to look carefully at your choices. Talk to your doctor about any method you are using or thinking about trying. 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. Even if they aren’t fully tested, you can choose methods that don’t usually cause harm and won’t interfere with your cancer treatment.

Here are examples of some complementary methods that some people have found helpful and safe when used along with standard medical treatment:

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a technique in which very thin needles are put into the body to treat a number of symptoms. It may help with mild pain and some types of nausea.

  • Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant substances, called essential oils, distilled from plants to alter mood or improve symptoms such as stress or nausea.

  • Massage therapy: Massage involves manipulation, rubbing, and kneading of the body’s muscle and soft tissue. Some studies suggest massage can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and pain and increase alertness.

  • Meditation: Meditation is a mind-body process in which a person uses concentration or reflection to relax the body and calm the mind.

  • Music therapy: Music therapy is offered by trained healthcare professionals who use music to promote healing and enhance quality of life.

  • Prayer and spirituality: Spirituality is generally described as an awareness of something greater than the individual self. It’s often expressed through religion and/or prayer, but there are many other paths of spiritual pursuit and expression.

  • Tai chi: Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art. It’s a mind-body system that uses movement, meditation, and breathing to improve health and well being. It’s been shown to improve strength and balance in some people.

  • Yoga: Yoga is a form of non-aerobic exercise that involves a program of precise posture and breathing activities.

The American Cancer Society recommends discussing all types of complementary or alternative treatments with your cancer treatment doctor (oncologist) and health care team.




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