When you’re trying to battle and cope with cancer, it’s normal to look for alternative treatments to help you maintain a good quality of life. But before you decide on taking any form of complementary cancer treatment, you need to have a clear understanding of what they are, how they work, and if they are appropriate for your condition.
What are Complementary and Alternative Cancer Treatments?
Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are not the same as the standard ways of curing cancer. In fact, there’s still no substantial evidence that they can do so. Nevertheless, most of them help cancer patients cope with their condition and feel better during cancer treatment
Why Consider Complementary and Alternative Cancer Treatments?
Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are appealing because they are simple, practical, and wholesome. Typically, they don’t require additional intake of medicine and have little to no side effects.
The decision to take alternative treatments will come from the patient. So in effect, complementary remedies to cancer not just offer an easier way to cope with medical treatment, but also an opportunity for patients to be more proactive with their fight against the disease.
How to Evaluate Alternative Cancer Treatments
Evaluating different alternative and complementary cancer treatments is challenging. Before a form of remedy or supplement can be deemed as effective, it needs to undergo intensive research and testing similar with standard or mainstream cancer treatment and medication, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Possible placebo effect needs to be considered as well. In some cases, patients think that they feel better after receiving an alternative treatment primarily because they expected it and not because the treatment was actually effective.
Meanwhile, there are supplement companies that don’t follow FDA guidelines about making claims and labeling their drugs, while others are operating illegally.
While most alternative treatments are geared towards helping a cancer patient, some may increase their risk and even cause death. Cancer cases vary and a treatment may or may not work depending on a patient’s unique case and needs.
Clearly, finding the right alternative cancer treatment is crucial. It needs to be done with utmost caution for the patient’s protection. So how do you determine if alternative treatments will work to your advantage?
Finding the Right Alternative Cancer Treatment
First, you need to have the right mindset. When it comes to alternative cancer treatments, it’s important that you manage your expectations. Remember, alternative cancer treatments may not help with eliminating the disease, but they usually help you cope your on-going medication better.
Discuss the alternative cancer treatment you’re considering with your doctor first. Every cancer case is unique. A complementary treatment may work well for somebody with lung cancer, but it may be harmful for someone with breast cancer. It all depends.
Some of the factors that your doctor will look into are the type of cancer you have, what stage it is in, the medications you take, and the side effects of your current treatment that you want to ease or alleviate. Looking into these factors ensure that the alternative treatment you choose will work side by side with your medication.
It also pays to do your research. There’s a wide array of information readily available about complementary cancer treatments. Familiarize yourself with them so that you already have baseline knowledge when you discuss them with your doctor.
Though most alternative cancer treatments need to be studied more to know if they have clinical effects, they are still generally helpful. Most pose no harmful effects on the patient and no adverse impact on standard cancer treatment.
Here are some of the most common complementary cancer treatments.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and it has been around for 3,000 years. A licensed practitioner usually administers this treatment by pricking or inserting needles on specific points in the body. It helps relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy and aids in managing pain for most cancer patients. However, it is not advisable for people who are under blood medication.
Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant oils for therapeutic purposes. These oils can be used in massages, showers, or as air fresheners. It helps improve a cancer patient’s mood, ease stress, and alleviate nausea.
However, you need to think twice about applying oil to your skin if you have allergies and if your have an estrogen sensitive condition such as breast cancer.
Battling cancer can be emotionally draining and can cause bouts of anxiety. To help a patient cope with stress, art therapy can be administered. It involves creative activities to help a patient express their emotions, which ultimately leads to lower stress levels and calmness.
Exercise helps reduce fatigue and stress and improves a cancer patient’s quality of sleep. Performing a 30-minute exercise routine on most days of the week is advisable, but you need to talk with your doctor first before starting any sort of workout regime. This way, you will do exercises that are suitable to your condition and will not put excessive strain on your body, especially if you have a bone or muscle condition.
TaiChi and Yoga are two kinds of exercises that are suitable for most cancer patients. They only require gentle movements yet they promote physical fitness and relaxation. However, if a position is too hard for you to perform, ask your instructor for an alternative.
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for therapeutic effects. It involves a deep state of concentration and is usually administered with the aid of a therapist.
Hypnotherapy helps cancer patients control pain, manage discomfort, and reduce stress. It also prevents nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, especially if your body anticipates those reactions because it already happened in previous sessions.
Massages are helpful in relieving pain, anxiety, fatigue, stress, and muscle tension. It is the process of kneading, rubbing, or squeezing through your muscles.
A massage can either be gentle or applied with more pressure, depending on your condition. If you have wounds from surgery, tumors, bone problems, and radiation areas, request for a gentler massage. Meanwhile, if you have a blood condition, this treatment is not advisable.
Most treatment centers have massage therapists within their facility. You can ask your doctor to refer you to one of them.
There are different types of meditation. Some involve deep concentration, while others require minor movements such as Tai Chi. Meditation promotes relaxation, calmness, improved quality of sleep, and eases anxiety and stress.
Music therapy can help ease the pain, nausea, and vomiting experienced by a cancer patient. This involves different musical activities such as listening to songs, playing instruments, or writing lyrics. This type of therapy may be administered individually or in a group setting, depending on the needs of the patient.
Relaxation techniques are also helpful in lessening anxiety, alleviating fatigue, and improving a cancer patient’s quality of sleep. This alternative cancer treatment is done by focusing the attention on calming the mind and relaxing the muscles. Initially, this is done with the supervision of an instructor, but a patient can eventually do this on his or her own with the help of recordings.
Living with cancer is tough, but alternative treatments can make life more bearable for those who have the disease. If you want to improve your quality of life while battling cancer, get in touch with your doctor today and see how alternative and complementary treatments can help you.