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Many people with cancer want to take an active part in their treatment, which they can do by using alternative treatment options. For cancer, this can include things such as massage therapy, imagery, and meditation. An alternative treatment is intended to focus on the mind, body, and spirit, not to replace medical therapies. These types of treatments can help reduce stress, lessen side effects, and enhance a person's well-being.

An Overview of Alternative Cancer Treatments

Complementary and alternative medicine is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. In this article, the term "alternative cancer treatment" is used to focus on complementary medicine options for people with cancer. Other terms that may be used to describe alternative treatment include "natural," "holistic," "home remedy," or "Eastern medicine."
Many people with cancer are exploring alternative treatment options. These treatments focus on the mind, body, and spirit. They do not replace medical therapies, but rather, add to them. These options can reduce stress, lessen side effects from cancer and cancer treatments, and enhance well-being. In addition, they can help you feel more in control; it is something you can do for yourself.

Specific Alternative Treatments for Cancer

There are many different cancer treatment alternatives. A few of these include:
  • Biofeedback
  • Distraction
  • Hypnosis
  • Imagery
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation and prayer
  • Muscle tension and release
  • Physical exercise
  • Rhythmic breathing
  • Visualization
  • Yoga.
With training in biofeedback, you can control body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. A machine will sense when your body shows signs of tension and lets you know in some way, such as making a sound or flashing a light. The machine also gives you feedback when you relax your body. Eventually, you can control your relaxation responses without having to depend on feedback from the machine. Your doctor, nurse, or social worker can refer you to someone trained in teaching biofeedback.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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