Complementary & Alternative Medicine and Cancer Treatment

You may become interested in complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) to help you cope with your cancer. Without careful supervision, however, CAM can introduce potentially for harmful and even life-threatening reactions.

Before pursuing any form of complementary or alternative therapy, we strongly recommend that you first discuss your options with your oncology team.

Complementary medicine consists of practices, therapies, or herbs used in addition to conventional therapies. You can safely use complementary methods such as guided visualization or yoga to reduce stress or increase energy while undergoing conventional cancer treatments recommended by your oncology team.

The same may not be true, however, for herbs or other substances that can be used as complementary medicine. Such herbs and other substances can interfere with the ability of chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells.

Alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine and attempts to specifically treat disease. For minor health issues, alternative medicine is generally not dangerous. Some alternative therapies, however, have serious and even life-threatening side effects. With others, the main danger is that a patient may lose the opportunity to benefit from conventional cancer treatment.

Your CCCN physicians and professional staff are well-versed in medical solutions and CAM options. They can help you assess your condition and opportunities to determine if CAM is the right path for your recovery. They can help connect you to the methods and services that are best suited to your specific condition.

To learn more about complementary and alternative medicine, click on the links below. All content provided through these links is for information only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician before acting or relying upon such information.

Memorial Sloan Kettering