Almost everyone with cancer at least considers using CAM (complementary and alternative medicines) in addition to their prescribed treatments. I am painfully aware that there are some people who opt for these treatments instead of our standards of care, and I am even more painfully aware of the likely outcome.
Earlier this week I met with a lovely woman in her 40s who declined radiation and chemotherapy and hormonal therapy (she did have surgery) for breast cancer about three years ago. She used a range of CAM treatments and felt positively about her choices. She came to our ER with widespread metastatic disease. Might that have happened anyway? Of course. But opting not to treat cancer with strategies that we know are helpful is a sure path to more pain.
This is an article that I wrote for the current issue of Cancer Today. After reading my essay, it will be easy to link to a number of other interesting articles.
Your Cancer Guide
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can supplement, but not replace, established cancer treatments.
By Hester Hill Schnipper
Studies show that up to 64 percent of people diagnosed with cancer have used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), a term for approaches like acupuncture, massage, tai chi, yoga, vitamins and nutritional supplements. Some would include counseling and support groups under the CAM umbrella. Research also shows that many patients do not discuss CAM with their doctors.
While there is no convincing evidence that CAM can cure cancer or slow its progression, some of these approaches may help you manage side effects and improve your quality of life during and after treatment. If you are wondering whether CAM might be for you, consider these points