Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 49 (6), 362-75

Evaluating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients


Evaluating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients

B R Cassileth. CA Cancer J Clin.


"Complementary and alternative" therapies are actually a vast collection of disparate, unrelated regimens and products, ranging from adjunctive modalities that effectively enhance quality of life and promising antitumor herbal remedies now under investigation, to bogus therapies that claim to cure cancer and that harm not only directly, but also indirectly by encouraging patients to avoid or postpone effective cancer care. Complementary therapies such as music and massage, herbal teas to aid digestion and relieve nausea, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and the many other well-documented techniques that relieve stress and enhance well-being should be made available to patients to augment and ease the experience of cancer treatment and recovery. Many time-tested herbal and diet-based remedies are now being studied for their abilities to induce or extend remission without toxicity. At the same time, lack of government regulatory authority leaves consumers at the mercy of those who promote unproved remedies, scores of which the grocery store and pharmacy shelves. Many of these over-the-counter products contain harmful ingredients. Herb-drug interactions, only some of which are documented, occur with frequency and are sufficiently problematic to require that patients stop taking herbal remedies prior to surgery (to prevent interactions with anesthetics and anticoagulant effects); before radiation (due to potential for increased photosensitivity); and during courses of chemotherapy (to prevent product-drug interactions). Moreover, both good information and misinformation that appear in printed materials and on the Internet appeal to better educated consumers, who are, in fact, the most likely to try complementary and alternative methods.

Similar articles

  • Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer
    BR Cassileth et al. Oncologist 9 (1), 80-9. PMID 14755017. - Review
    Many cancer patients use therapies promoted as literal alternatives to conventional medical care. Such "alternative" modalities are unproven or were studied and found wor …
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Impact on Dentistry
    JW Little. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 98 (2), 137-45. PMID 15316539. - Review
    Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) represent a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not considered to be part of c …
  • Complementary or Alternative Therapies for Osteoarthritis
    E Ernst. Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol 2 (2), 74-80. PMID 16932660. - Review
    Complementary or alternative therapies for osteoarthritis are commonly used and therefore it is important that health-care providers and patients are aware of the evidenc …
  • Complementary Therapies: Overview and State of the Art
    BR Cassileth. Cancer Nurs 22 (1), 85-90. PMID 9990763. - Review
    Studies to determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among cancer patients show international interest in a wide collection of therapie …
  • Complementary Therapies for Cancer-Related Symptoms
    G Deng et al. J Support Oncol 2 (5), 419-26; discussion 427-9. PMID 15524070. - Review
    Relief of cancer-related symptoms is essential in the supportive and palliative care of cancer patients. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, mind-body techniques …
See all similar articles

Cited by 5 PubMed Central articles

LinkOut - more resources