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Your Guide to Alternative Cancer Treatments

Your Guide to Alternative Cancer Treatments: Alternative and complementary terms refer to different types of practices, products, and systems that are not considered conventional medicine. For example, the term alternative cancer treatments refers to methods used to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life of cancer patients.

Some of these methods are performed by those with formal education and training (i.e. music or art therapy). This can include everything from colon therapy to various systems that don’t use any of the medical treatments used by doctors.

While some methods can be costly (e.g., travel to other countries or strict diets), others are quite affordable and easy to use (e.g., herbs, vitamins, homeopathic remedies).

Why people use alternative therapies

A study published in 2012 found that at least half of cancer patients are using alternative therapies at one point or another. There are several reasons people use alternative therapies. Some of the most common reasons are:

    • It makes them feel better.

      People use alternative therapies to help them feel better and put them in an excellent position to deal with the disease and treatment. Many alternative therapies focus on relaxation and stress reduction. They also help cancer patients better manage their emotions and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

    • It helps reduce side effects and symptoms of cancer.

      There is increasing evidence that some alternative treatments can help patients effectively manage some of the cancer symptoms and some of the treatment side effects. For example, acupuncture is known to help alleviate the disease caused by some chemotherapy drugs.

      Acupuncture is also known to relieve mouth pain after treating throat or head cancer. It is also known to provide pain relief after lymph node removal.

    • It helps patients feel more in control.

      Sometimes some cancer patients feel that their doctors are making all the decisions about their treatment. In similar cases, most patients feel like they don’t have much control over things. With alternative therapies, many cancer patients feel they are playing a more active role in their treatment and recovery.

Alternative cancer treatments

  • Dietary treatments

    This is one of the most typical forms of alternative therapies in cancer patients. Dietary treatments are based on the assumption that certain nutrients are needed by cancer cells and should be avoided.

    Many anti-cancer diets are also based on the idea that the condition is caused by the buildup of waste products in the body. Some of the conventional cancer diet treatments include acid-free, raw food, and juice diets.

  • Cannabis oil

    Cannabis oil has been heralded as a treatment option powerful enough to shrink or destroy cancerous tumors. Cannabis oil is sometimes referred to as marijuana or hemp oil and is available in different forms and potencies. It can be poured into cooking oil, mixed into food, or its vapors inhaled.

  • Laetrile

    Laetrile was first popularized as a cancer therapy in Russia and the United States more than a century ago. Laetrile is a purified form of amygdalin, an extract from apricot pits and some plants and nuts. Gut enzymes are believed to break down laetrile and produce cyanide, which is believed to kill cancer cells and leave healthy tissue intact.

  • massage

    Some studies have found that massage can relieve pain in some people with cancer. It can also help relieve stress, fatigue, and anxiety. Massage can be a safe option as patients work with an experienced and knowledgeable massage therapist. Massage therapists are employed in many cancer centers. Doctors may also be able to recommend therapists who work with cancer patients on a regular basis.


The decision about alternative treatment options is important and should be made by the patient alone. However, there is no harm in checking with your doctor so that you are also informed whether this is the best alternative to complement your current treatment.


Lauren Cole is content marketing strategist at Dayspring Cancer Clinic, an alternative cancer treatment center in Scottsdale, Arizona. When she is not working and writing content, she enjoys gardening and reading books.

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