Examining Complementary & Alternative Cancer Treatments Part 11: Discussing Complementary and Alternative Treatment Methods with Healthcare Providers

Cancer patients and their loved ones, as well as ordinary people who are curious about the disease, have multiple questions about the disease. In the recent years, there are questions in particular that need more answers and explanations, and that is with regards to the products, therapies, and techniques associated with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

From acupuncture and muscle relaxation techniques to herbal remedies and specific nutritional diets, these complementary and alternative cancer treatment methods lie outside of conventional medicine. Countless patients have resorted to these alternative treatments because of various reasons. Generally speaking, people use CAM for the following:

  • To treat or cure cancer

  • To free themselves of the side effects of their cancer treatments, such as:

    • Nausea

    • Pain

    • Fatigue

    • Anemia

    • Lymphedema

    • and More

  • To ease their worries and relieve themselves of the stress that comes with cancer management.

  • To help them feel more in control of their treatment and doing more than just relying on the therapy they are currently undergoing

Nevertheless, individuals prefer CAM because it offers something that conventional medicine cannot provide, which is the freedom to choose the treatment they will receive. There are those who cross over to CAM because they have grown tired and weary of the pain and suffering they get from radiation therapies and other methods. A significant number, on the other hand, opt for CAM for financial reasons, because conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are quite expensive.

Before proceeding with a specific CAM treatment, patients should be reminded that it would be best to discuss the available options with a trusted healthcare provider. Any reputable doctor would be more than happy to help you regarding a particular product or therapy. You can ask questions and discuss any concerns that you may have regarding the effectiveness and safety of a method, as well as determine what effects it may have if used alongside certain prescriptive drugs or dietary supplements.

On Making the Right Choice

As a human being and a cancer patient, it is only natural for you to want to fight the disease in the best way possible. Thankfully enough, cancer information is widely available and there are medical health professionals always looking for new ways to treat cancer. Several treatment methods and products are constantly being tested as well, so it can get a bit confusing when it comes to deciding where to start.

There are currently millions of Americans out there who are using some form of CAM. Just like any health-related decision, considering complementary and alternative cancer treatment methods are highly important. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has outlined in their fact sheet how to make sure you make the right decision about complementary and alternative cancer treatment products and therapies.

  • When it comes to taking care of your health, nothing beats being an informed consumer. Keep tabs on the latest scientific studies on the product or therapy that you are interested in. Discuss what valuable information you have gathered with your healthcare provider so you can make a proper decision.

  • When choosing a particular CAM procedure, make sure the practitioner is licensed and certified, and backed up with the right credentials so you can receive proper care and treatment.

  • If you’re interested in trying out a product or therapy that is not yet proven to be safe or effective, then do not consider it as a suitable alternative to conventional medicine. make sure you gauge the risks involved and discuss it with your healthcare provider.

  • Inform your trusted doctor or medical health professional about any complementary approaches that you are currently using.

What most people don’t realize is that it is important and highly beneficial to evaluate an approach with a medical health professional. This gives you the opportunity to accurately discuss the specific treatment, which includes any supporting research, side effects, effectiveness, and cost. Here are some of the questions that need to be asked:

  • Who is promoting or recommending this particular CAM product or therapy? The answer to this essential because you want to know that the person or company behind it carries outstanding reputation, otherwise you run the risk of trying something that has false claims and even end up doing more harm than good to your body. Remember that there are about a hundred different types of cancer, so there is not a single treatment that will effectively cure all types.

  • What is this treatment designed for? Is it to be used alongside a standard therapy, or act as an alternative?

  • Does this method treat the type of cancer that I have?

  • Is there substantial and legitimate research regarding the safety of this treatment?

  • What are the possible side effects?

  • If this is an alternative cancer treatment, will it require for standard treatment to be delayed? If yes, will it be harmful to my health or affect my chances of being treated in the future?

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