Alternative therapy for cancer

What is alternative therapy?

Standard or conventional medicine refers to medical treatments that have been scientifically tested and found to be safe and effective, and many have been approved by the FDA. Alternative therapy is a nonconventional approach to healing.

Complementary medicine. Complementary medicine refers to nonconventional therapy used in combination along with standard or conventional medicine.

Alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is nonconventional therapy used alone, without recommended, standard treatment.

Some people use complementary treatments (such as herbal medicines or supplements) to relieve symptoms or side effects while undergoing standard or conventional treatment.

Other people may decide to pursue alternative therapy instead of receiving standard treatment.

Before considering Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Most complementary and alternative medicine fields are not standardized or controlled by any Western medical guidelines. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any complementary or alternative medicine. Some CAM approaches may be safe and/or helpful; others may interfere with standard treatment.

Being an informed health care consumer when considering complementary or alternative medicine is important. Ways to gather information before starting any therapy include:

  • Consulting your doctor
  • Researching on the Internet
  • Researching in the library (books, articles, and scientific journals)
  • Speaking with others who have tried the therapy
  • Looking for controlled, scientific studies about the therapy, whenever possible

What warning signs may indicate a fraudulent therapy?

According to the American Cancer Society, the following are warning signs that a treatment might be questionable:

  • Treatment based on unproven theories
  • Treatment that promises a cure
  • Treatment that offers benefits but claims to have no side effects
  • Patient is told not to use standard or conventional medicine
  • Treatment is a secret and can only be given by certain providers
  • Treatment requires travel to another country
  • Treatment providers discourage the use of standard or conventional medicine

If a treatment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.