Cancer and Complementary Therapies

Many people who receive a cancer diagnosis seek to do everything they can for their health, and this often includes researching various natural, alternative or complementary approaches. While it is very tempting to research on your own accord, this is tricky without a background in medical science and biochemistry.

Furthermore, many of the natural therapies that rank on popular search engines are not backed by clinical research, have too small a sample size for success, and can potentially be detrimental to your health or even contraindicated with other treatments or medications you are using.

Natural does not always mean safe

It is important to differentiate between the terms.

Natural implies a therapy or substance that is non pharmaceutical, meaning it could be a nutritional supplement, food as medicine, herbal medicine or even a non invasive therapy such as exercise, acupuncture or hyperthermia.

Alternative suggests a natural therapy that is used instead of medical treatment, often with curative intent.
(It is important to note, that MIOG as an Integrative Oncology clinic does NOT advocate the use of alternative therapies when conventional medicine is recommended.)

Complementary Therapies are used simultaneously to conventional cancer treatment, ie alongside chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other medical treatment approaches. The goal of using complementary therapies in cancer care, ie an Integrative approach, is to achieve the best of both worlds: medical treatment to target the cancer cells, and complementary therapies to enhance efficacy, reduce side effects and support the patient's health and wellbeing throughout the process.

Do Complementary Therapies work?

Clinical research shows that natural substances and therapies can have a profound effect on the biochemistry of your body. We know that they can influence pathways, enhance or inhibit enzyme function, stimulate the immune system and more. There is also a growing body of research that is showing the beneficial effects of using selected Complementary Medicines at various stages of the cancer treatment protocol. When used correctly, Complementary Therapies can indeed have a significant positive impact.

However, if used incorrectly, their action can potentially be detrimental or negatively affect the efficacy of chemo, or radio or immunotherapy. This is obviously what we DON'T want.

It is thus VERY important to work with a qualified and experienced practitioner to ensure those Complementary Therapies you are using are safe and beneficial in your cancer management plan.

Which Complementary Therapies are most relevant in Cancer Care?

It is very important to use only those Complementary Therapies that are assessed and supported by clinical research studies. Individual case reports, 'miracle cures', and any kind of biased research should not be considered reliable information.

What are the goals?

Using Complementary Therapies in Cancer Care is essentially what Integrative Oncology is all about. It has a few key goals:
 
  • Reduce treatment side effects
  • Enhance the effects of your treatment
  • Support recovery and wellbeing before, during and after your treatment
  • Reduce risk of recurrence

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MIOG offers evidence-based Complementary Medicines to patients with cancer: before, during and after medical treatment. MIOG staff are not Medical Oncologists. MIOG recommends that patients with cancer consult a Medical Oncologist for appropriate support.


 

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