ALTERNATIVE CARE: Although the standard medical care for cancer includes chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, some patients decide to opt for more alternative methods to treat their cancer or the symptoms associated with the disease. These alternatives are often referred to as CAM, which stands for complementary and alternative medicine. Unlike standard medical care for cancer patients CAM treatments are not always supported by scientific evidence, and while the CAM treatments may be effective for some people it is not guaranteed to benefit everyone. Complementary medicine refers to the use of non-standard medical treatments along with the standard medical care, meaning a patient may have chemotherapy but is also using an alternative therapy to help with the nausea and fatigue. On the other hand, alternative medicine is when alternative cancer care is used in place of the standard medical treatments.
TYPES OF CAM: Many different types of complementary and alternative medicine for cancer treatment exist and they can usually be classified into three main categories: those dealing with the mind-body connection, with energy, and practices that are biologically based. Alternative cancer care may include:
- Imagery – The patient imagines experiences or images in order to promote healing in the body.
- Special Diets and Herbs – Although it has not been scientifically proven, some believe certain foods and herbs can help treat cancer and/or boost the body’s immune system allowing it to heal.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture is used to help relieve nausea, fatigue, and pain associated with cancer or cancer treatments and to promote health.
ALTERNATIVE CARE DEBATE: While some people believe complementary or alternative cancer care is the way to go, there could be some problems with the treatments. Although the vitamin or herb therapies are natural, too much of a certain vitamin can have a negative effect on the body and some herbs and vitamins can react badly with traditional treatments like chemotherapy or cause those treatments to be less effective. It is also important to remember that these care options are not backed by scientific evidence so it is not always clear what the outcome of the treatments may be. If a person is interested in trying a complementary or alternative medicine, they should talk with their doctor. (Source: www.cancer.gov)