Complementary and alternative therapies


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New guidelines for CAM and cancer patients

THE FIRST PRACTICE GUIDELINES on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies for cancer patients come from the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO). The newly developed guidelines recommend that health care providers ask all cancer patients specifically about their use of complementary and alternative therapies, advise them about the advantages and limitations, and warn them to avoid therapies promoted as "alternatives" to mainstream care.


Among the adjuncts to mainstream cancer treatment recommended by the SIO are mind-body therapies that might help reduce the patient's anxiety or ease chronic pain and improve his quality of life. These include meditation, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and guided imagery. Massage therapy to relieve anxiety and pain is recommended except for patients with bleeding tendencies; avoid applying intense pressure at the site of cancerous lesions or on postoperative areas.


The guidelines strongly recommend acupuncture by a qualified practitioner when pain or nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy are poorly controlled. It's also an option for patients suffering from dyspnea, fatigue, chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, or postthoracotomy pain.


The complete guidelines are available online at http://www.integrativeonc.org/documents/JCI_2007_002.pdf.



American Botanical Council http://www.herbalgram.org


The Cochrane Collaboration http://www.cochrane.org


Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/44.cfm


National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine http://www.cancer.gov/cam/health_pdq.html


Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database http://www.naturaldatabase.com


Natural Standard http://www.naturalstandard.org


The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center http://www.mdanderson.org/CIMER


Source: Deng GE, et al., Integrative Oncology Practice Guidelines, Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, Spring 2007.