Healthy Living

Do Alternative Therapies For Cancer Really Work?

Reality check: You’ve got to accept that alternative cancer therapies can't cure cancer. They can’t, but they may provide some relief from your condition’s signs and symptoms. The truth can hurt, but there’s no escaping this one.

New research found that one-third of people living with cancer in the United States use complementary and alternative therapies. Medical professionals have long been concerned about the safety of these unproven practices and say that they may interfere with conventional cancer treatment.

In 2018, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated that 1.74 million people in the U.S. will receive a diagnosis of cancer by the end of that year. NCI estimated that 609,640 people will die due to the condition.

It’s understandable many people with cancer might try anything they feel might help them, including what are called complementary and alternative cancer treatments. Doctors note that alternative cancer treatments might restore a feeling of control to cancer patients whose world seems spinning out of control.

Doctors also know that once they receive a diagnosis, many people turn to complementary and alternative therapies in search of cure. They say alternative cancer treatments such as acupuncture might not play a direct role in curing your cancer. On the other hand, these alternatives might help you cope with signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

Common signs and symptoms of cancer distress are pain, anxiety, stress, fatigue, nausea and vomiting and sleeping difficulty. These might be lessened by alternative treatments.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend 10 alternative cancer treatments that are generally safe. They also say there’s growing evidence these 10 alternative cancer treatments could provide some benefit.

They recommend a cancer patient work closely with his doctor to determine the right balance between traditional medicine and alternative cancer treatments. While complementary and alternative cancer treatments may reduce nausea or pain, they’re generally not powerful enough to replace cancer medications from a doctor.

Unfortunately, many alternative cancer treatments remain unproven and some may even be dangerous, according to doctors.

Nevertheless, doctors recommend the following alternatives to treat the specific symptoms:

Anxiety - hypnosis, massage, meditation, relaxation techniques

Fatigue - exercise, massage, relaxation techniques, yoga

Nausea and vomiting - acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, music therapy

Pain - acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, massage, music therapy

Sleep problems - exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga

Stress - aromatherapy, exercise, hypnosis, massage, meditation, tai chi, yoga

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