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What is Complementary Medicine?

Adapted from Complementary Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Foundation at: http://www.chemocare.com/complementary_medicine.asp

Complementary medicine is the term used here to describe additional forms of treatment that may be given along with chemotherapy and traditional Western medicine.

In the past, complementary medicine has claimed various types of “miracle” cures for cancer, which have since proved ineffective or even fraudulent. The integration of conventional and complementary medicine therapies, however, is of increasing interest. This approach is being adopted at leading cancer treatment centers (such as Cleveland Clinic) and hospices and by self-help groups. Gentle therapies such as massage, relaxation, and other “healing” therapies play a major role in palliative care (symptom relief). Some patients find that complementary medicine, also called integrative medicine and/or holistic healing, can help alleviate the side effects, pain and anxiety associated with chemotherapy and cancer treatments in general.

Sometimes complementary medicine is mistakenly referred to as “alternative therapy” or “alternative medicine,” and it is important to distinguish between the two. Complementary medicine is recognized and approved by many health care professionals, whereas alternative therapy is not. Complementary medicine is given along with chemotherapy whereas alternative medicine is given in place of chemotherapy and includes non-approved, non-tested treatments that can be harmful.

No matter what type of complementary medicine you may choose to explore, you should consult your physician before beginning any form of additional therapy.


Types of Complementary Medicine Therapies:

Experts divide complementary medicine into five categories: Sensory, Cognitive, Expressive, Physical and Medical Systems


Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this section is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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