Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer Summary

The Lost Book Of Remedies

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Current data suggest that many patients use CAM therapies. The use of complementary therapies for symptom control can be encouraged. These therapies are noninvasive, pleasant, and effective. Randomized trials support their value. Conversely, alternative methods, promoted for use instead of conventional oncologic therapy, should be discouraged. These methods are not effective. Moreover, they are invasive, typically biologically active, expensive, and potentially harmful, as patients may delay timely receipt of beneficial care while trying a nonviable "alternative."

The provision of evidence-based complementary therapies along with mainstream cancer treatment is a relatively recent development. Termed "integrative oncology" to emphasize the integration of complementary and mainstream care, this synthesis seeks to provide optimal overall management of cancer patients. High-quality research, an integral aspect of integrative oncology, is enabled when the expertise available in cancer programs is applied to the study of complementary therapies. Because research supports the value of complementary modalities in the control of symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment, these modalities should increasingly become part of oncologic care.

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