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Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Complementary & Slternative Medicine (CAM) is a term used to describe a diverse group of treatments, techniques, and products that are not considered to be conventional or standard medicine. Conventional/standard treatments are those that have been scientifically tested; found to be safe and effective; and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Complementary medicine is used in addition to conventional treatments. Alternative medicine includes unproven therapies and products used instead of conventional treatments.

People with cancer who are considering complementary or alternative therapies should first discuss them with their doctor, just as they would any other treatment approach, because some CAM therapies may interfere with conventional therapies.

Questions to Ask When Considering CAM

When considering CAM, it is important to first discuss all treatment options with your doctor. This list of questions may help gather the necessary information on the potential benefits and risks of a therapy.

  • What benefits can be expected from this therapy?
  • What are the risks associated with this therapy?
  • Do the known benefits outweigh the risks?
  • What side effects can be expected?
  • Will the therapy interfere with conventional treatment?
  • Is this therapy part of a clinical trial?
  • If so, who is sponsoring the trial?
  • Will the therapy be covered by health insurance?

About Complementary Medicine

Complementary therapies are used in combination with standard/conventional therapies; this approach is often called integrative medicine. Find out more about the many therapies that can be safely used to manage side effects of conventional treatment or improve a patient’s physical or emotional well-being.

About Alternative Medicine

Alternative therapies are those treatments used in place of standard/conventional treatments. Patients considering alternative therapies are strongly encouraged to learn about the risks involved with this approach.

Learn more about Complementary & Alternative Medicine.